Safety plea after farm deaths rise
- Credit: Ieuan Williams
Rural communities are being urged to take safety more seriously after an increase in the number of fatal accidents on farms.
Figures out today from the Health and Safety Executive show 39 people were killed on farms last year - up from 33 in 2017/18.
Some 36pc were as a result of moving vehicles, 23pc caused by animals and 18pc falls. Two of those killed were children.
The HSE says farming still has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, around 18 times as high as the all industry rate, accounting for more than 22pc of workplace fatalities.
"Agriculture is a critical part of our economy," said Andrew Turner, head of agriculture at the HSE. "But every year we have to report that agriculture has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK.
"This is made even more tragic by the fact that the deaths and injuries are avoidable. The precautions to prevent people being killed and maimed on farms are well known and can be easily applied."
Today marks the start of Farm Safety Week, which aims to inspire farmers to look after their physical and mental wellbeing and reduce the number of accidents.
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Stephanie Berkeley, manager of the Farm Safety Foundation, said: "On a farm, as with any business, the number one resource is the people so why do farmers still give more attention to their livestock, crops and machinery than to themselves and their own wellbeing?"
Lindsay Sinclair, chief executive of NFU Mutual, which set up the Farm Safety Foundation said awareness of farm safety has never been higher but 47pc of all agricultural worker fatalities occur in the over 60s age group.
Titanium Tim survived fall
Tim Papworth, then 41, fell from a ladder at his farm in Tunstead, near Norwich, in 2010.
He suffered a serious head injury and was taken by air ambulance to the specialist trauma unit at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, where he spent five weeks in a drug-induced coma.
"I couldn't speak and had two bleeds on the brain. I was paralysed on the left side of my body. I couldn't do anything for myself. The only way I could communicate was by writing notes on bits of paper.
"Thanks to the speedy reaction of the air ambulance and the team at Addenbrooke's I knew I was going to survive but I was still anxious about how I would function in the future and the effect it would all have on my wife Emma, our children and the family business. How to keep the business running and earn the money to look after my family worried me no end."
The accident happened five years ago and thankfully Tim has made a full recovery apart from impaired hearing in his left ear. Tim jokingly refers to himself as Titanium Tim due to the plate that has been placed in his skull but he fully realises that safety is no joking matter.
Tragic death of Peter
In February 2017, contractor Peter Fisher, 54, was unloading straw from a lorry at Highhouse Farm, near Thetford.
A stack of bales collapsed off the side of the lorry while Mr Fisher was unstrapping them. He was crushed by the impact and died at the scene.
Mr Fisher's son Jack said: "I have worked closely with the Farm Safety Foundation and Norfolk Young Farmers Clubs have raised money for the charity to help them carry out their great work at colleges and YFCs throughout the UK.
"I'm proud to be a farm safety ambassador and help where I can to share our story and hopefully address this awful safety record we have in the industry."