NFU Mutual said it had seen a stark rise in injury claims from farmers in 2013, particularly those involving people falling from height.
The NFU Mutual figures were brought in to sharp focus with the news of another farm tragedy, this time in the Scottish Borders.
It was revealed NFU Scotland livestock board convenor Jim Sharp, 67, died at his farm in Lauder, on Monday, while operating a grain auger. NFUS president Nigel Miller described Mr Sharp as man of ‘sharp intellect’.
Lindsay Sinclair, chief executive of NFU Mutual, said: “In 2013 we saw a substantial increase in large claims. Many involved a fall from height, resulting in extensive bodily injury and a requirement for life-long care. The number of serious accidents on farms is getting worse, not better.
Mr Sinclair said while farming accounted for just 1.5 per cent of the UK workforce, it was responsible for 15-20 per cent of all workplace fatalities.
He added: “The impact on individual lives is enormous. With our risk management services subsidiary and the newly-formed NFU Mutual
Farm Safety Foundation, which is a charitable foundation, we are working closely with our members to help them to better manage the risks they face.”
The shocking figures came as the insurance provider announced a strong set of annual financial results. It saw a 1.5 per cent growth in general premium income to £1.29 billion, which contributed to a 92.4 per cent rise in profits over the year to £635 million.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) underlined NFU Mutual’s comments about the worrying lack of safety on-farm and said the industry had a poor record of managing risk.
Rick Brunt, head of agriculture at HSE, said: “These figures do not show the impact left on the family and friends of those killed, or who suffer life-changing injuries.
“It is the farmers and the workers who must acknowledge and manage the risks by committing to what are often simple, common sense changes to the work they do.”
NFU regulatory affairs adviser Ben Ellis said falls from height were one of the most common injuries on-farm.
He said: “We would urge farmers to plan and undertake work in a safe manner at all times. This applies when there are clear risks such as working on roofs, but also at other times when the risk may not be so obvious, such as climbing on vehicles.”