20 July 2001
Farm accident deaths up 20%
By FWi staff
FARMING accidents claimed an average of one person each week last year as the death toll increased by more than 20%, new government figures reveal.
Fifty-three people were killed in farming accidents in Britain in the year to April, according to provisional figures from the Health and Safety Executive.
Thirty seven died in England, nine in Scotland and seven in Wales.
This is an increase of nine deaths on the previous years total of 44, and slightly higher than the average of 52 over the previous five years.
HSE chief inspector for agriculture Linda Williams said it was with “great sadness” that she reported the increase and called on farming to improve safety.
“This is a trend that must be addressed by the industry which must take steps towards reducing the number of fatal injuries over the coming years.”
More than half involved those aged over 50, with 22% over retirement age, and there was a dramatic increase in deaths among the self-employed.
Farmers leaders say this tragic trend reflects the ageing farming population and the dangers posed to those struggling on with a drastically reduced workforce.
National Farmers Union president Ben Gill said: “I fear that the huge job losses from the industry, falling profitability, under-investment and the stress that goes with this all have a part in the story behind these headline figures.”
Mr Gill said farmers must not to struggle on, however tempting, without taking account of the risks that might be involved.
Forty-six of the deaths involved people at work, an increase of 10 on last years record low figure.
Fourteen of these were employees and 32 self-employed — a substantial increase on the 23 self-employed farmers killed in the previous year.
Thirteen fatalities involved vehicles, falls accounted for 12 deaths, 11 were struck by moving or falling objects, and five were killed by moving machinery.
Seven people who died while not at work included four children, three of whom were under four years of age.
The HSE has launched a new publication Fatal Traction giving practical advice on avoiding farm transport accidents. Copies will go to training centres.
Farming unions have backed the HSEs cross-industry Revitalising Health and Safety initiative.
- Farm accidents kill 44 in England, FWi, 04 July, 2000
- Child safety on farms focus of HSE campaign, FWi, 30 April, 1999
- Farm deaths jump by 30%, FWi, 28 July. 1997
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