The health and safety of workers and members of the public on farms has been very much under the spotlight recently, with this year’s Farm Safety Week running from Monday 24th July.
Dangers of Farming
Farming is one of the UK’s most hazardous sectors, with 27 workers losing their lives in work-related incidents on farms in Britain between April 2016 and March 2017. This equates to 7.61 deaths per 100,000 workers – 18 times higher than the national all-industry average. Only waste and recycling has a higher rate. In addition, three members of the public died as a result of injuries sustained on farms, including a three-year-old child.
This pattern is reflected in Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland, there were 21 deaths in agriculture during 2016, nearly half of the total across all industries, while Northern Ireland saw six farm deaths in 2015-16.
“Farming is an industry which has many inherent risks,” explained Alan Plom, Vice-Chair of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) Rural Industries Group. “As in many other industries, deaths and serious injuries are avoidable. The consequences of accidents can be much more serious because people are working alone and often in remote places.”
“During Farm Safety Week, we work together with other key organisations to raise awareness of this sad state of affairs and to promote how, with strong risk management procedures and just by stopping to think for a few seconds, we can protect workers, their families and other members of the public on our farms,” he added.
Skin Cancer Risk
Farm Safety Week is also being used to highlight the longer-term skin cancer risks rural workers suffer because of prolonged exposure to the sun.
Research commissioned by IOSH for its ‘No Time to Lose’ campaign found that malignant melanoma kills nearly 50 people each year in the UK because of exposure to solar radiation at work, with 240 new cases being registered. One of the key sectors at risk is agriculture.
Farm Safety Week is run by Farm Safety Foundation. The charity has highlighted that the farming, forestry and horticultural sector employs around 1% of national workforce. One of the greatest risks facing these workers is fall-related incidents – either falling from height or being hit by a falling object. According to the charity, these incidents account for around 30% of all farm fatalities. The stacking and transporting of hay bales can be particularly hazardous.
“Any fall from height can lead to long term injuries and make it difficult to keep on farming,” explained Stephanie Berkeley from the Farm Safety Foundation. “Most accidents of this type happen either because the work is not properly planned, the risks are not recognised, proper precautions are not taken, or the equipment used is either defective, not appropriate, or used incorrectly. According to Voice of the Farm research carried out this year half of all farmers claim to take risks.”
“On a farm, as with any business, the number one resource is the people, so why is it that year-on-year we are seeing these hard working and dedicated people suffering life-changing and life-ending accidents?” she added. “Many farmers think farm safety last rather than farm safety first, but most of these accidents are avoidable.”
Our personal injury lawyers have many years of experience helping people deal with the challenges that can result from a work related accident. We offer a free consultation to let you know about all of the options for getting compensation, care and rehabilitation as soon as possible. To arrange a free consultation, or to find out more about our no win no fee service, call us on 01412496903 or contact us online.