Tomorrow’s farmers must be more aware, more informed and more capable if they want to see improvements in the industry’s abysmal farm safety record.
This was according to the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) who branded its sixth Farm Safety Week: ‘Your health. Your safety. Your choice.’
It said it wanted to instead reflect ‘what good looks like’ and inspire behavioural change.
It follows the latest statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which revealed there had been 29 fatal injuries to agricultural workers over the last year, plus four members of the public – including two children.
“Over the past five years we have asked farmers to stop and think,” Stephanie Berkeley of the FSP said. “We can continue to make powerful and emotive films and offer advice but we cannot do one thing. We cannot make farmers change their attitude.
“Only they can make that change. They have to want to change; they have to decide to change; they have to play their part and they have to take responsibility.”
Ms Berkeley said another big factor was the ‘health, agility and stubbornness’ of older farmers, something which this year accounted for 48 per cent of agricultural deaths.
But for young farmers, awareness of farm safety is on the up thanks to the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (NFYFC) Farm Safety Curve training module.
More than 100 Young Farmers clubs have already delivered the course with hopes more youngsters will take it up in the new membership year.
Ms Berkeley said: “We want these young farmers to bring the good behaviours into the industry, start to challenge older farmers and help to address the fact that farming has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK.”
The average rate of fatal injury in agriculture works out at 8.44 deaths per 100,000 workers, the highest of any sector and 18 times higher than the all industry average.
This year’s statistics equate to one more than the five-year average of 32.
Rick Brunt, HSE head of agriculture, said: “While we are seeing signs of an industry eager to improve this record, the high death rate emphasises the need for determined action by all involved in the farming industry if we are to bring about a real change to these appalling figures.
“Please do not step back and accept this as the norm for your industry.”
The FSP is supported by Farm Safety Partnerships, the HSE, HSE Northern Ireland and the Health and Safety Authority, Ireland.
The top five causes of farm deaths (2017/18):
Although the order of the top killers fluctuates each year, the overall top four or five causes remain unchanged.
Top locations of fatal incidents: