The HSE has issued a statement reminding farm owners / managers about the importance of safety. The HSE statement encourages those who operate farms, as well as individuals working on them, to "make safety a priority" and help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries in the farming industry.

The statement from the HSE follows Farm Safety Week. As our colleagues discussed at that time, Farm Safety Week coincided with the release by the HSE of statistics relating to fatalities on farms.

Those statistics highlighted that agriculture had the worst rate of fatal injuries of all major industrial sectors and was approximately 20 times higher than the average rate in other industries.

Recent incidents

A series of recent fatal incidents on farms confirms the serious consequences of safety failings. These include:

  • On 27 July 2021, the death of a man in an apparent fall from height at a farm in Angus.
  • On 3 August 2021, the death of a child following a collision with a vehicle at a farm in South Wales.
  • On 9 August 2021, an apparent crushing incident at a farm in Hampshire.
  • On 10 August 2021, the death of a man found in a field of cattle in Marshfield.

Each incident remains under investigation by HSE and the relevant UK police authorities.

Avoiding future incidents

The HSE describes most injuries and fatalities on farms as being "both predictable and preventable" and points to "simple measures" that can be taken to reduce risk, including:

  • Risk assessing work before it commences, implementing safety measures and providing training to workers on the importance of following those measures.
  • Switching off machinery when not in use or before attempting repairs.
  • Creating pedestrian zones to avoid individuals coming into contact with moving vehicles.
  • Managing livestock, particularly where public footpaths intersect or cross fields.

Key takeaways

Responsible farms will have safety as a paramount consideration. The HSE statement and series of recent fatalities demonstrate the importance of ensuring that safety measures are properly embedded. Given the inherently high-risk nature of the work, it's vital that:

  • Risks are adequately assessed.
  • Workers are appropriately trained and know where to seek further support and guidance.
  • Active supervision is in place.
  • Any unsafe practices are identified and corrective action taken.


Ramsay Hall

Legal Director

Tony Convery