28 July 1995

Farm deaths rise by 50%

FARM deaths in Wales increased by 50% over the last year, and most were caused by poor machine maintenance, lack of guards and unsafe working practices.

Brian Neale, principal Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector for Wales, said he was disappointed and saddened by the nine fatalities – the highest figure for five years.

Investigation of 18 deaths and 27 serious injuries resulting from 1000 tractor-related accidents in Wales between 1987 and 1993 showed that tractor operators, particularly those between 15 and 25 years, failed to follow basic safety principles because of lack of adequate information and training.

"We are working closely with everyone in the industry to try to reduce this unnecessary toll," said Mr Neale. "We have to devise ways to heighten health and safety awareness among young people."

To highlight the problem, an HSE press conference was given a personal account of the tractor accident suffered by student Andrew Collier on an Anglesey farm.

Mr Collier admitted he had tried to start a tractor while standing and holding ill-fitting terminals onto the battery. When it moved forward the bone from hip to knee was shattered. This injury kept him off work for seven months.

"Like all youngsters I suppose I had big ideas and the accident came as a big shock. I now approach tractor work much more carefully," he said. &#42