Safety Week warning as death rate re­mains high

The Scotsman - - Weather / Farming - By BRIAN HEN­DER­SON

With 30 deaths recorded in the past 12 months, up from 29 in the pre­vi­ous year, agri­cul­ture re­tains the worst record of any in­dus­try in the UK and Ire­land for work­place deaths and in­juries, ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics re­leased yes­ter­day by the Health and Safety Ex­ec­u­tive (HSE).

With an annual fa­tal injury rate of 7.61 work­ers per 100,000, agri­cul­ture is six times more dan­ger­ous than the con­struc­tion in­dus­try – and 18 times that of the av­er­age across all in­dus­tries.

Th­es­tatis­tic­sal­soshowed that de­spite some vari­a­tion be­tween years, tak­ing the fig­ures for the past decade, on av­er­age, some­one work­ing in agri­cul­ture has been killed ev­ery nine days.

In Scot­land in 2016-17, there were five fa­tal­i­ties in the sec­tor, down by three deaths on the fatal­ity av­er­age of eight over the 201213 to 2016-17 pe­riod, with ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents be­ing the most com­mon cause of these deaths.

Farm safety week kicked off yes­ter­day, with more or­gan­i­sa­tions than ever in­volved in the push to get those in the in­dus­try to take greater care.

Rick Brunt, who heads up the agri­cul­ture sec­tor with the HSE, said: “Agri­cul­ture is a crit­i­cal part of our econ­omy, but ev­ery year we have to re­port that agri­cul­ture has the poor­est safety record of any oc­cu­pa­tion in the UK.”

He said that this fact was

0 Tak­ing care with ma­chin­ery is vi­tal for per­sonal safety all the more tragic owing to the fact that the deaths and in­juries were of­ten avoid­able.

“The pre­cau­tions to pre­vent peo­ple be­ing killed and maimed on farms are well known and can be eas­ily ap­plied,” said Brunt.

He said that de­spite the fact that more than half of all fa­tal in­juries in­volved farm­ers over the age of 65, farm work­ers of any age ran the risk of injury or death.

NFU Scot­land pres­i­dent An­drew Mc­cor­nick, who also spoke on be­half of Farm Safety Part­ner­ship Scot­land, said that farm­ing as an in­dus­try was ab­so­lutely vi­tal to the UK econ­omy – stat­ing that it formed the bedrock of the coun­try’s food and drink in­dus­try.

He said: “On a farm or croft, as with any busi­ness, the num­ber one re­source is the peo­ple. So why is it that year on year we are see­ing these hard-work­ing and ded­i­cated work­ers suf­fer­ing life-chang­ing and lifeend­ing ac­ci­dents?

“Many farm­ers think ‘farm safety last’ rather than ‘farm safety first’ but most of these ac­ci­dents are avoid­able.

“Un­like other oc­cu­pa­tions, our farm­ers and crofters don’t nor­mally re­tire at 65 and of­ten work well into their 80s.”

He said that sim­ple fac­tors such as habit, haste, fa­tigue, and im­prop­erly main­tained ma­chin­ery con­trib­uted to the “per­fect storm”.

“But this Farm Safety Week, we hope that by hear­ing the sto­ries of other farm­ers and crofters who have had per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of ac­ci­dents, we can get farm­ers of all ages to re­alise that this week, and ev­ery week, farm safety is a life­style, not a slo­gan.”

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