In August, my colleague, Sarah, wrote about recent statistics showing that agriculture is 7 times more dangerous than construction (the 2nd most dangerous UK industry) and 18 times more dangerous than the UK industry average below I explore recent advice to improve health and safety in the industry.

Increase in fatalities

In 2018/2019 there were 39 fatalities in agriculture, forestry and fishing. A 15% increase from 2017/2018's 33 fatalities. 14 of those deaths were caused by moving vehicles or machinery and nearly half of those killed were over the age of 60. This week the University of Aberdeen concluded from their research that some tools employed by other industries might help improve agricultural safety.

Advice to the Sector

Their advice is to focus on changing a few behaviors and find ways to promote best practice every day. Much like pre-flight checks pilots must complete prior to each flight, it is suggested that farmers turn to practical tools like pocket guides and check lists for their daily tasks. These contain checks that workers will do almost subconsciously every day, but the check list approach is designed to eliminate complacency that can creep in when someone is familiar with a routine task.

Recent HSE investigations and fines

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has stressed the importance of good visibility when driving machinery. In Yorkshire in February 2017 a retired farm employee, experienced worker and regular visitor to a farm, was struck and killed by a moving tractor loaded up with hay bales obscuring the driver's vision. The driver was not inexperienced but his vision was obstructed. He was fined for a breach of health and safety legislation. In November 2019, a Buckinghamshire dairy business was ordered to pay almost £20,000 in fines and costs for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 after an employee was blinded. A faulty pump sprayer used for a corrosive disinfectant ruptured in the employee's face permanently blinding him in both eyes. HSE found that the business had failed to plan, had no effective emergency arrangements and had failed to supervise the use of chemicals.

Key points to consider are:-

  • Consider health and safety and ensure your workers do likewise
  • Avoid complacency -update and refresh training for all staff as required.
  • Complete and implement risk assessments
  • Make good practice central to your business

Need more information?

For more information or tips about workplace health and safety do get in touch with me or your usual Brodies contact. You can also download Brodies' Health and Safety App here.