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Figures reveal 33 people were killed on farms in the last year

PUBLISHED: 08:18 17 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:41 19 July 2018

Gulls following the plough on a field in Langley near Loddon.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Gulls following the plough on a field in Langley near Loddon. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

New figures reveal that 33 people were killed in farm accidents in the last year – underlining the dangers of the industry as it launches its annual safety campaign.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says the number of fatalities in agriculture is 18 times higher than the average across other major UK industries.

Among the 29 farm workers killed, the biggest cause of death was livestock, accounting for almost a quarter of all fatalities (24%), followed by being struck by a farm vehicle (18%), and trapped by a structure collapsing (15%). Other causes include being struck by an object, falls from height and contact with electricity.

Only one death was recorded in the East of England – a 57-year-old worker who slipped and fractured his ankle in the farmyard, and later died from medical complications related to the injury.

Four members of the public also died on farms between April 2017 and March 2018, says the report, including two children under the age of 16.

The release of the figures coincides with the launch of Farm Safety Week, a joint initiative by the Farm Safety Foundation, the Farm Safety Partnership, the HSE, which runs between July 16 and 20.

Organisers emphasised that older adults accounted for the majority of deaths, with 21 of the 29 farmer workers killed aged over 60, while 14 were over the age of 65.

Stephanie Berkley, of the Farm Safety Foundation, said: “Unlike other occupations, farmers don’t tend to retire at 65 and often work well into their 80s.

“Factors such as health, agility and stubbornness combine with risk-taking, fatigue and improperly maintained machinery to create this ‘risk’ nightmare.

“We can continue to make powerful and emotive films and offer advice and guidance but we can’t do one thing.

“We can’t make farmers change their attitude. Only they can make that change.”

FORMER BOYBAND STAR BACKS CAMPAIGN

Former boyband star JB Gill, who set up a farm to rear pigs, turkeys and chickens after quitting music in 2013, has joined forces with Farm Safety Week to call for better safety measures on working farms.

The JLS singer, who has two young children, said: “Farms can be wonderful places for children to grow up but the sad fact is that farms are the only workplace where children continue to be involved in fatal accidents, which is heart-breaking for the farm owners and the families involved, as well as a horrific tragedy for their communities.

“Being part of the farming community and having a young child myself, I want to help highlight the importance of child safety on farms.”

He urged farming families to put “simple and practical” measures in place to improve safety.

For more information on farm safety advice and accident prevention, see the Farm Safety Foundation website.

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