30 June 1995

More help is sought to cut down accident toll

MORE government resources are needed to help cut the accident toll on Britains farms.

The plea was made by farm workers representatives at the launch of a major tractor safety campaign at the show.

Barry Leathwood, national secretary of the agricultural section of the Transport and General Workers Union, welcomed the Health and Safety Executives training initiative. He pointed out that Scotland had the worst record of tractor accidents, with the young and elderly most at risk.

But he warned of "tremendous pressure" on the HSE to cut staff, and asked how often the average farmer could expect a visit from a safety inspector.

David Mattey, HSEs field operations director for Scotland, said every holding employing labour had been visited in the past five years. But he stressed that responsibility for safety lay with those working in agriculture not the HSE inspectors.

Ivan Monckton, a TGWU member of the agricultural industry advisory committee, said: "We would like more facilities to be made available to the HSE so that inspectors can get round farms more often. Along with the NFUs we are appealing to the government for extra resources."

The HSEs new tractor safety training pack should be made available to farm-based training groups as well as through the colleges, according to John McMyn, the Scottish NFUs employment and technical convener. "We have to emphasise the need for continual hands-on training and not just among the younger age group."

Provisional HSE figures reveal that eight people died in Scotland as a result of farm accidents in 1994/95, the lowest number for five years. For the second year running no young children were killed. A total of 250 accidents were reported on Scottish farms.