Farm deaths down but agriculture still most dangerous industry

Fewer farmers were killed at work in the UK last year, according to figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

There were 27 workers – employees and self-employed people – killed in agriculture between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014. This represents a decrease of four on the previous year’s figure of 31.

However, the total number of reported fatal injuries resulting from work activities in the agriculture sector was 31, including four members of the public, two of whom were children.

The rate of fatal injuries, per 100,000 workers, remains higher in agriculture than in any other industry, including construction. This continues to be a cause of concern for HSE, its Agriculture Industry Advisory Committee (AIAC) and the industry itself.

A total of 10 farm employees were killed in 2013-14 – a figure similar to the previous year. The average number of employee deaths over the previous five years was 12.

See also: Sheep farmer dragged to death in grain machine by bootlace

 As in previous years, transport was responsible for more deaths in 2013-14 than any other cause.

Ten people (32%) died after being either struck by moving vehicles, run over by tractors and farm equipment, caught between moving vehicles, equipment and structures, or trapped by overturned vehicles.

Of the transport-related deaths, a 24-year-old farmworker died when a telehandler rolled forward and crushed him against a dumper truck that had got stuck in a manure heap; and a one-year-child that was run over by a reversing family vehicle in the farmyard.

Injuries from livestock accounted for seven deaths – the second highest category (23%).

An 82-year-old self-employed farmer was crushed to death by a cow. A 66-year-old member of the public was trampled to death by cow.

A 53-year-old self-employed cattle farmer was attacked by an aggressive cow and an 87-year-old dairy worker died when a cow brushed past him.

Three of the deaths involved a bull. A 78-year-old member of the public was attacked by a bull. A 33-year-old self-employed farmer was killed by a dairy bull. And a 65-year-old farmer was also attacked and trampled by his temperamental and aggressive bull.

Five workers were killed due to falls from height five (5%). Four of the deaths involved fragile roofs.

Meanwhile five people died after contact with moving machinery or material being machined (5%), including 66-year-old Scottish sheep farmer Jim Sharp, who died when he was dragged into a silo sweep auger.

Two fatalities involved bales. A 74-year-old self-employed farmer was found crushed underneath several bales of straw that had become unstable and a 49-year-old farm manager was struck and knocked over on to a concrete floor by a collapsing column of bales.

More people were killed in Yorkshire and the North East than in any other region (11), followed by Scotland (seven) and the Midlands (six). Wales had the fewest number of farm fatalities (one).

From 2003-04 to 2012-13, there have been 424 fatalities agriculture (including farming, forestry, arboriculture, horticulture, fish farming etc).

The figures were released in the HSE report, Fatal Injuries in Farming, Forestry, Horticulture and Associated Industries 2013-14, published on 5 December.

Meanwhile, separate HSE figures showed workplace injuries in the agricultural sector cost society an estimated £137.3m in 2012-13. This figure includes imposed costs on employers (sick pay), on individuals (the human costs of pain, grief and suffering), and on the government (health care expenditure).