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From the editor: Farming must not resign itself to worsening death toll

Farming is not only the most deadly industry in the UK, but its infamy as the biggest killer of employers and employees is something which is mirrored across the world.

Take Australia, New Zealand or the US, and it is one of the most dangerous industries to be involved in.

 

Following the publication of the UK’s latest Health and Safety Executive figures about farm deaths, the statistics continue to shock.

 

But they do little to drive down the figures, with the previous 12 months being worse than the five-year average, at 39 deaths.

 

The death of Ben Goldsmith’s 15-year-old daughter in a suspected quad bike incident hit the mainstream press and highlighted the issue of farm vehicle safety to a wider audience, but tragedies are occurring on a regular basis away from the gaze of the national media.

 

That story prompted a farm media contact in Australia to ring me and ask whether we in the UK were facing the same grim death toll as a result of ATV incidents as they were over there. It would seem we are.


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But the difference there is that the issue has found its way in to the political arena and legislation is being considered to tackle the problem.

 

He claimed that measures such as compulsory use of helmets on ATVS, as well the potential introduction of rollover bars to such machines, were being discussed by politicians.

 

The problem, as ever with farming, would be enforcement.

 

Whether it is the nature of the profession and the fact farmers often work on their own; whether there is a mindset within the industry to keep doing things as they have always been done; whether it is a belief things will simply be okay; or whether it is lack of time that causes people to cut corners; whatever the reason, the spiralling death toll on UK farms should be a wake-up call to all.

 

But will it? Or will we be talking about it with the same sense of despair in another 12 months?

 

It is time for the industry to act.

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