FARM LEADERS have welcomed a drop in fatalities related to agricultural accidents but warned that more needs to be done to improve the sector’s record.

Between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020 there were 20 agricultural workers killed on farms, a 37.5% drop on the year before.

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But agriculture still has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors – 18 times higher than the average and accounting for around 20% of all worker fatalities.

A summary of each death, which was released by the HSE, does not mention poultry production but most of the major causes of accidents are risks present on broiler or egg farms.

Seven died after being struck by a moving vehicle; four were killed by a fall from a height; two were killed by contact with machinery, and two died after being struck by something collapsing.

Animal injuries and being struck by an object such as a bale make up the other causes of death.

A member of the public – a four-year-old child – also died on a farm over the period.

Half of all fatalities were workers over the age of 55, and the five-year average reveals that more than double the number of workers over 65 have died when compared with any other age group.

The number of fatal injuries to workers in the agricultural sector has fallen by around a half since the early 1980s.

Change our approach

NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts said: “We are seeing more farmers making important headway when it comes to improving safety on farm, but the fact that the main causes of fatalities on farms have been the same year after year demonstrates that we need to change our approach to doing things.

“Farming has changed since our grandparents were doing it and we have to change our approach to safety with it.

“We can no longer carry on doing things just because that’s how it’s always been done. We need to start looking at situations with a fresh pair of eyes, and we need to help each other by pointing out risks when we see them.”

Farm Safety Week, organised by the Farm Safety Foundation, will focus on a different area every day this week. 

  • Monday Launch of the HSE report and video
  • Tuesday Impact of Covid-19
  • Wednesday Child safety on farms
  • Thursday Role of technology to reduce accidents
  • Friday Transport and farm accidents