The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said it needs to rethink its approach to farmer ill-health and well-being after admitting it had not been ‘top of the list’.
Rick Brunt, head of operational strategy at the HSE, told the Farm Safety Foundation’s Resilient Farmers’ Conference, Stratford-upon-Avon, last week (May 21), that its priorities for agriculture excluded work-related stress, instead focusing on tackling the causes of fatal injury.
He said when the initial document was written about three years ago, education, health and public services topped the list of work-related stress, with agriculture sitting ‘about average’.
Mr Brunt said: “In our terms it was not a priority for HSE.
“Fast forward from three years ago and I am sat in a room of people saying we have a real interest in mental health and well-being, and that maybe I need to rethink this and start thinking what more we can do.
“We are quite committed to working in that context.”
Mr Brunt also admitted that when the document was being drafted, the HSE was looking at where the industry was in tackling the causes of death and injury, ‘and trying to get to grips with how we do it’.
He added: “We took the decision that we would not be pushing the industry to start dealing with ill-health problems. We will deal with those because we want the industry to focus on safety.
“Again, maybe we need to rethink that.”