28 June 2002

Fatality figures show a decline

TWO people were killed in the agricultural industry in Scotland during the past year, reports the Health and Safety Executive.

That is the lowest figure in more than a decade and is also well below the average recorded during the past 10 years.

But speaking during the opening day of the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston, near Edinburgh, Linda Williams, HSEs chief inspector of agriculture, said there was no room for complacency.

"Two fatal incidents are still two too many, but the overall fall in deaths should be encouraging news for the Scottish farming industry.

"This is the lowest number of fatalities for many years and compares with an average of nine deaths a year in the past 10 years," she said. "I welcome these figures, but do so with some caution. The apparent downward trend may well be explained, at least in part, by the decrease in agricultural activity due to foot-and-mouth disease."

One of the deaths was a 17-year-old employee who suffered internal injuries when a bale grab he was painting toppled on to him. The grab had been propped against a container unit and a diesel tank so that he could paint both sides. It seems that the youth climbed on to or stood on the grab, causing it to fall.

The second death was a 56-year-old self-employed gardener who fell through a fragile roof-light on a hayshed roof.

"Falls from height and, in particular, those associated with fragile roofing materials continue to cause deaths within agriculture and this year it has accounted for another death in Scotland," said Mrs Williams.

Young people, she added, were always vulnerable and at risk on farms if they did not receive adequate instruction and training on safety in the workplace.

"The message for all in the industry is clear: Everyone is at risk. Everyone who is even tempted to take a shortcut or to let standards slip puts themselves and others at risk," she said.

"Adopting a safe system of work pays in the long run." &#42