The agriculture sector in the UK is one of the riskiest industries, with high numbers and rates of fatal accidents and injuries. According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics, the industry has a fatal injury rate about 18 times higher than the all industry rate, with transport revealed as the biggest killer in agriculture. Most deaths are caused by overturning vehicles or people being hit by moving vehicles.
To help address this situation, Farm Safety Week is held annually, taking place between July 24th and 28th. This year’s event is being held in conjunction with the Royal Welsh Show, one of the biggest events in the UK’s agricultural calendar. The key message for 2017 is that farm safety is a lifestyle and not a slogan, with five countries (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland) being brought together to tackle the issue.
The most recent Health and Safety in Agriculture report from the HSE found that there were 27 fatal injuries to farm workers in Great Britain between 2015 and 2016. Some 21 people died in farm accidents in the Republic of Ireland, and a further 12 in Northern Ireland… which suggests that farmers are still taking risks at work.
Those in the industry are now being urged to make this a real focus over the next few days, wearing the Yellow Wellies lapel badge during filming and photo opportunities, and following The Farm Safety Foundation on Twitter (@yellowwelliesUK). If you do engage in social media activity relating to farm safety, make sure you use the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek as well.
Over the coming week, five days of themed practical guidance and advice for farmers will be provided by the Foundation. Topics covered include children on farms, livestock, falls, machinery and transport, and the HSE Agricultural Workplace Fatalities report.
Training is key when it comes to staying safe in any job, but especially one with as many inherent risks as farming. For those new to the industry, taking responsibility for your own safety is a must – so you need to make sure that someone with vast experience highlights what best practice health and safety is relevant to your working environment and staff.
Tips for staying safe while working on a farm include following safe stop procedures while driving, ensuring that handbrakes are well maintained and keeping pedestrians well away from vehicles.
Where livestock is concerned, always remember that animals can be unpredictable. Always use the right equipment and follow proper working practices to avoid injury.
And if you’re going to be working at height, do you have a rescue plan in place if an employee becomes unwell or suffers from a heart attack? Remember that roofs can be fragile even if they look strong, so equipment like guard rails, coverings and harnesses should always be used.
Those of you who feel as though you need support developing any emergency preparation plans and rescue procedures for farming environments and farm workers should get in touch with us here at HFR Solutions CIC to see how we can be of assistance in this regard.