It is well documented that in comparison to other sectors in the economy, farming has one of the poorest safety records out of the main industrial sectors. We are seeing various steps being taken by the farming sector to try and improve the safety record in agriculture. One such step is Farm Safety Week which this year runs from 15-19 July.

This year, for Farm Safety Week, the National Farmers Union (NFU) is encouraging the sharing of stories of safety improvements on farms so that the industry can learn from them. This is something that we already see happen in other sectors, for example in the oil and gas and marine industries, which have seen huge improvements in its health and safety record and hopefully the agricultural industry will move in the same direction.

In addition to Farm Safety Week this year, NFU and the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP), which represents 38 organisations from across the agricultural sector, have launched a major yearlong safety campaign in 2019, and have committed to work towards reducing work place fatalities on farms by 50% by 2023.

Each quarter the campaign will focus on one of the four main causes of fatalities and injuries in the farm work place:-

  • Transport
  • Livestock
  • Children
  • Falls from height

Despite the perception that farmers and others in the industry are becoming more engaged with health and safety, in terms of statistics the number of deaths in agriculture sadly rose from 30 in 2016/2017 to 33 in 2017/2018 and it is this figure that the FSP are looking to reduce by 50% by 2023.

The two main causes of fatalities in the industry in 2017/2018 were persons being injured by animals or being struck by moving vehicles, hence these being two of the focus points for FSP. Agriculture also has a high rate of lone working situations, for example out in fields, where it can be difficult to attract attention in the event of an incident, perhaps resulting in fatality where in a different location/industry the outcome would be less serious. At the other end of the spectrum there will be times where the farm itself is busy and there are various vehicles, people and animals moving in close proximity to one another.

Being aware of the potential dangers and risks facing them and how to mitigate them, i.e, by using appropriate risk assessments for each individual situation, will lead to a safer working environment and help to prevent accidents and injuries. The Health and Safety Executive website has various resources on how to improve working practises which can be a useful starting point.


Sarah Polson

Senior Associate