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One Worker a Week Dies from Working in the Farming Industry

by Ridley&Hall in Ridley & Hall Solicitors, Samantha Hirst, Sarah Young posted February 8, 2016.

Working in agriculture is one of the most dangerous jobs in Britain. A shocking quote from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says, “In the last ten years, almost one person a week has been killed as a direct result of agricultural work. Many more have been seriously injured or made ill by their work.”

Some of the most common causes of death are getting trapped in moving vehicles, drowning or asphyxiation, contact with machinery and injury by an animal. Accidents at work are more likely to take place in August, September and October when extra machinery is being used for the harvest.

The problem doesn’t stop there. Farmers and other farm workers expose themselves to ill health and permanent disabilities as a result of working with chemicals, dust and working in harsh weather conditions for long periods. Common health problems are asthma and musculoskeletal injuries. Around 20,000 workers each year are effected by ‘zoonoses’, which are diseases passed on from animal to humans.

In December 2015 an investigation started after two young male farm workers died at a farm in East Yorkshire. The HSE and Humberside Police are investigating.

According to the HSE, the total annual cost of injuries (in farming, forestry and horticulture) to society is estimated at £190 million and around two-thirds of that is due to reportable injuries (£130 million), with fatalities accounting for around another third (£55 million).

Many farms are run by families and according to a government survey done in 2013, 84% of farms were established family farms. With an industry that is rooted in family values and prides itself on its reputation many injuries are not reported.

So why is this industry so dangerous and what is being done to make it safer?

The advancement of technology in farming could be one of the main reasons why there are so many fatalities. The introduction of machinery, like tractors, combines, choppers and hay balers bring an array of dangers into the work place and it is vital they are properly risk assessed.

Following health and safety regulations is a crucial requirement of running any business. Farmers have a very proud, resilient and hardworking reputation but according to the HSE, “unwise risk taking is an underlying problem in the industry, especially for those farmers who are working alone.”

Samantha Hirst, Ridley & Hall Solicitors’ accidents at work specialist, says, “last year dairy farmers protested over milk prices and I imagine there are many farming businesses that are struggling to make a living because of the cut throat competition from supermarkets. There is a concern that some farmers may be tempted to take shortcuts, not follow health and safety and expose themselves to unnecessary risk.”

samantha-hirst-homeThe government has issued several risk assessments relating to farming on their website. Following these regulations will help farmers identify risks on their farms and in turn reduce accidents.

Samantha adds, “It is hard to believe that in this day and age a family, every week, receives life shattering news that someone they love has died from working on a farm. The culture of farming needs to adapt and farmers unions, the government and business owners need to work together to eliminate this problem. Every worker is entitled to work in a safe environment.”

If you, or someone you know has been involved in a farming accident, please call us on 01484 558824 for more information.

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