Pre-harvest safety campaign aims to reduce appalling toll of farm deaths and injuries

An online health and safety drive is being launched by NFU East Anglia to keep farmers safe during h

An online health and safety drive is being launched by NFU East Anglia to keep farmers safe during harvest time. Picture: Lesley Buckley / iWitness24 - Credit: Lesley Buckley

An online health and safety drive has been launched to reduce the risk of accidents, injuries and deaths on East Anglia’s farms as the busy harvest season nears.

After its planned series of pre-harvest health and safety workshops on farms was postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is making the information available online instead.

It aims to reduce the industry’s woeful safety record which, according to the most recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures, saw 32 agricultural workers and seven members of the public killed on farms in 2018/19, with more than a third of farming fatalities involving moving agricultural vehicles. The HSE says farming has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors.

NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts and farm safety and transport adviser Tom Price will feature in a safety webinar on Thursday, June 25. This will be supported by a series of videos looking at areas including vehicle safety, working near power lines and safe stacking within farmyards, as well as a video focusing on mental health.

NFU East Anglia regional director Rachel Carrington said: “Everyone in farming will know of someone who has been killed, or seriously injured, in an agricultural accident and the impact this has on their business but, more importantly, on their family, staff and their friends.

“We must do all we can to improve agriculture’s record on fatalities and serious injuries.

“Even though we can’t hold our normal pre-harvest workshops on farm we hope this virtual workshop will highlight these vital health and safety messages.

“An hour or two spent online could, literally, be a life-saver.”

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Mr Roberts said attitudes towards farm safety were starting to improve but there was still a long way to go.

“The Farm Safety Partnership has set a target of halving farm deaths, from a base of 29, by 2023 and we are working hard to achieve this,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is an industry with no fatalities.”

• NFU members can register for the webinar by emailing or calling 01638 672111. The videos will be available to view via NFU East Anglia’s regional web pages from 25 June.