A group representing farmers across South Holland has revealed plans for a “minimise risk” campaign to cut the number of deaths in agriculture.
NFU East Midlands is teaming up with the Farm Safety Partnership, which represents farming organisations, auctioneers, and machinery dealers, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to launch a “Healthy Working For All Ages” strategy.
Accidents are not inevitable and can be prevented, but the key is to remove risk or take steps to minimise it if risk cannot be removedDanny O’Shea, NFU Holland (Lincs) county adviser
It follows a survey by the HSE last month which showed that in 2016/17, agriculture had the highest rate of fatal injuries, around 18 times higher than the national average for all industries.
Danny O’Shea, NFU Holland (Lincs) county adviser, said: “There is no argument that agriculture’s safety record needs to improve.
“The NFU is working hard with partner organisations in the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP), and with the HSE, to improve the industry’s safety record.
“We are working with the HSE on a “Healthy Working For All Ages” at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, on October 30 and the aim of this event is to help raise awareness among farmers of health and safety issues and how to tackle them.
“Accidents are not inevitable and can be prevented, but the key is to remove risk or take steps to minimise it if risk cannot be removed.
“Many transport and machinery accidents can be prevented if the ‘safe stop’ procedure of ‘handbrake on, controls in neutral, engine off and keys out’ is followed.
“Other industries manage risk and agriculture is working hard to up its game at harvest and all round the year.”
Holbeach Hurn farmer Mark Tinsley, a member of Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Board of Directors, said: “The HSE figures are sobering but correct and it does no harm to publicise the issue.
“Larger farm units with employees are generally more safety-conscious, but NFU Mutual (which insures over 70 per cent of the farming community) has a bespoke health and safety team who will do farm analysis.
“The team is very good but, sadly, age and wisdom do not go hand in hand for us farmers.”
Thomas Price, NFU farm safety and transport adviser, said: “During the past decade, on average, one person is killed every nine days as a direct result of agricultural work activity.
“Farming is a highly rewarding industry and so vital to the UK economy, but it is still one of the riskiest.
“Often farmers don’t make adjustments or modify equipment to make it safer because they are in a hurry or because they think they can just ‘make do’ for economic reasons.
“But farm safety is a lifestyle, not a slogan, and ‘because I’m in a hurry’ isn’t a good enough reason for poor maintenance of equipment and facilities.
“Safe equipment is more of an investment than an expensive luxury.”