6000 farmers request HSE ‘Make the Promise’ packs

The Health and Safety Executive has described its ‘Make the Promise’ campaign as an ‘incredible success’ because farmers are engaging with it and absorbing the message.

Judith Donovan, HSE board member, said the death rate in agriculture had stayed at the same level for the past 20 years, which suggested previous campaigns hadn’t been successful.

In the past ten years 455 people have died on British farms. This works out at almost one person every month.

“The death rate hasn’t improved in the past 20 years which means what we have been doing hasn’t worked,” she told Farmers Weekly.

“We wanted to move away from talking about accidents to talking about the victims. [We wanted to highlight this] is also about the person’s wife, the person’s family and the person’s community.”

Ms Donovan said the campaign had resulted in a very high level of response – more than 6000 packs had been requested by producers – and anecdotal feedback had been very encouraging.

“This campaign has pushed a button by doing things differently – and the fact that has come from the HSE has made it even more of a shock.

“It is a very difficult industry to have the partnership I think we’d want to see. We are seen as part of that interfering government mob, along with the Inland Revenue.

“But actually we are trying to save people from themselves. In most other industries we are protecting workers from bad bosses – but in this industry we are trying to protect people from themselves.”

Ms Donovan said she rejected claims that the HSE was asking people to comply with rules that added cost – or were difficult when there was a lack of profitability in the industry.

“It is not down to profitability, it is about common sense. We are not asking anybody to spend any more money than they are now.”

“We are unfairly blamed [by some in industry] because it seems we just want the throw the rule book at them. We don’t want to throw the rule book at them. We want to throw the plea at them that it is absolutely devastating for their families and community if a farmer is killed. One death less and I will sleep more.”

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