High death toll in farming accidents

In Scotland there have been 82 reported fatal injuries as a result of agricultural working activities over the past ten years - this is 82 too many.

Farming is a dangerous industry to be involved in and each day accidents happen. Whether they are minor or major, this issue needs to be resolved. There are a number of risks involved in agriculture, from working with vehicles and livestock, to working on buildings and with electricity supplies.

The HSE reported that: “Proportionately, there are more work-related deaths in agriculture than any other sector. Each one is a tragedy for a family, for a business and for the industry as a whole.”

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Less than 1.5 per cent of the working population is employed in agriculture, yet the number of accidents is much higher than any other sector. Why is this?

Livestock is unpredictable and can cause serious injury if the right equipment and the correct safe working practises are not followed. The Health and Safety Executive reported that 9 per cent of the 82 fatal injuries were caused by livestock.

Many farmers do not consider the behaviour of animals and why they react in such a way.

The operation of animal handling facilities is often learned by watching others and learning from individual experiences, but it is essential that farmers use the safety devices to handle and restrain the animal in a safe manner. Poor judgement and a lack of understanding are the main causes of accidents on farm.

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Now that we are in the “summer” and the busiest season, it is a race against time to get everything done before the weather breaks.

It is more important than ever to remember safety procedures when dealing with vehicles and machinery.

Accidents involving vehicles and machinery contribute to 19 per cent of the total fatalities. Keeping machinery and vehicles well maintained and repaired can help reduce these statistics. Operators must be well trained to reduce the likelihood of accidents.

It is a sad fact that many agricultural accidents involve children. Over a ten year period, HSE reported that 31 children and young people under the age of 16 died from agricultural related activities with a further 12 between the ages of 16-18. To reduce this number, farmers need to remember that children have limited awareness of risks.

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To help raise awareness NFU Mutual is running a series of workshops specifically aimed at women, mainly mums, to highlight hazards.

Ever heard yourself say “that was a close one!” Yes? Well now is the time to think about the health and safety on your farm.