Fatal accident figures spark safety warning for farmers

Combine harvester in a Norfolk field of wheat

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show 41 people were killed in agricultural accidents in the year to 31 March, 2021 - although none were recorded in the East of England - Credit: Lesley Buckley

Farming leaders warned there was no room for complacency after the East of England bucked a rising national trend of fatal accidents on farms.

Latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show 41 people were killed in agriculture in the year to 31 March, 2021 - 18 more than last year.

But while those national figures reached their highest level for five years, the HSE report says no agricultural deaths were recorded in the East of England during that period.

Gary Ford, East Anglia director for the National Farmers' Union (NFU) said while the regional figure was welcome, it should not lessen the focus on safety as the industry enters its busiest time of the year.

"With harvest now under way across the region, Farm Safety Week is a timely reminder of the need to make health and safety a top priority during this incredibly busy time on the farm," he said.

“The emphasis of the week is all about sharing health and safety advice and tips, farmers learning from each other, and this is something our members are already doing in East Anglia.

“The best advice I’ve seen so far is to never use the phrase ‘hurry up’ on the farm. As our East Anglia student and young farmer ambassador Eveey Hunter said: ‘We don’t do rushing. It’s more important to get home safe at the end of the day’.

“There are encouraging signs that the conversation around health and safety is changing but, as the latest HSE figures show, conversation alone isn’t enough. Farming, and farmers have to do more.

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“We need to work together to ensure that every week is farm safety week and that effective safety measures are seen as a fundamental part of any successful farm business.”

The HSE released its figures for Britain's agriculture, forestry and fishing industries during the annual Farm Safety Week.

They show more than half of the workers killed were aged 60 or older, and the most common causes of accidents include being struck by moving vehicles, large animals and machinery, and falls from from height.

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