Farm deaths at lowest level on record

Workplace deaths in farming have fallen to the lowest level on record, according to the latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics.

There were 20 fatal incidents in agriculture, forestry and fishing in Great Britain during 2019-20 – although the sector still accounts for about 20% of all worker deaths.

See also: Major campaign to reduce farm fatalities

And the fatal injury rate for agriculture, forestry and fishing remains some 18 times higher than the all-industry average, according to the figures.

The Farm Safety Partnership – which represents 38 organisations across the agricultural sector – wants to halve the number of farming fatalities by summer 2023.

The latest figures suggest it could achieve this – but further efforts are needed, with the five-year average fatality rate standing at 27 deaths.

NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts said: “While these figures show an important drop in fatalities they still indicate that there’s significantly more to do. Last year we lost too many of our family, friends and colleagues in the workplace – one fatality is too many.

“For the past few years we have seen many in the industry consciously prioritising health and safety and I hope these figures indicate the start of a downward trend which is underpinned by a culture change in the agriculture sector. 

“There will be variations year on year and we need to see longer-term sustained improvement before we can say that farm safety has fundamentally changed.”

More work needed

HSE chief executive Sarah Albon said no one should be hurt or killed by the work they do – and every workplace fatality was a tragedy.

Although the improvement was encouraging, nobody should become complacent, she added.

Ms Albon said: “These statistics remind us that in certain sectors of the economy, fatal injury in the workplace remains worryingly high.

“Agriculture, forestry and fishing accounts for a small fraction of the workforce of Great Britain, yet accounted for about 20% of worker fatalities in the last year.

“This is unacceptable and more must be done to prevent such fatalities.”