Health and safety on the farm is an important issue which has recently been re-highlighted with the tragic news reports (March 2007) of a 12 year old boy killed whilst driving a tractor, a man killed by a cow whilst tagging the cow’s calf and a man injured with a fractured spine whilst climbing into a grain silo.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) state that:
- between 1994-2004 an average of 49 people per year have been killed as a result of farming and agriculture-related activities;
- in 2004-2005 47 people were killed as a result of farming and agriculture-related activities;
- in 2005-2006 45 people were killed as a result of farming and agriculture-related activities.
Whilst the number of fatal injuries are decreasing, the HSE highlights the fact that the agricultural industry has the highest incidence rates of any major industrial sector in the UK. Reasons for this stem from the inherently hazardous nature of the agricultural industry whereby farmer’s, employees, children and members of the public either work with or come into contact with potentially dangerous machinery, equipment, buildings, chemicals and livestock. The HSE point out that the main causes of accidents and fatal injuries in farming are generally related to:
- falling from a height;
- contact with livestock;
- contact with moving machinery; and
- being struck by moving or falling objects.
The agricultural industry needs to look at ways to promote and improve health and safety on our farms so that accidents and injuries can be reduced and avoided.
New approaches to health and safety introduced by HSE over the past few years include:
- Safety and Health Awareness Days;
- An electronic self assessment software package;
- Land based Vocational Qualifications at NVQ levels 2, 3 & 4 in health and safety;
- Targeted inspection campaigns; and
- HSE’s agriculture e-bulletin, a regular email of news, information, advice and guidance on health and safety in agriculture.
The Health and Safety Executive believe that, “Health and safety is integral to good farm business management……. and what is now needed is for those in the industry……to promote risk awareness, risk assessment and….risk control.”
For more information relating to health and safety in farming and agriculture, then visit the HSE website.