Farms fatalities fall but health & safety still needs addressing

More people are killed or injured on farms across the UK and Ireland than any other industry

Vicky Whipps sat waiting for her husband Craig, aged 27, to come home from work on July 15, 2011 but he never arrived. A normal working day on the farm in Stapleford, Essex, turned into a day of tragedy.

On that day, farmer Craig was working with slurry and was overcome by hydrogen sulphide gas. A work colleague rushed to save him but sadly lost his life also.

Farming deaths have fallen in the last year but health and safety still needs to improve

Farming fatalities have fallen but a stigma still exists

Tragically, this heart-breaking tale has been heard far too often across the country and has left the farming industry with a reputation as being one of the most dangerous industries in the UK.

Latest figures released by the Health and Safety Executive, revealed that 215 people, over the last five years, have lost their lives on farms and that 29 of those have been killed in 2015/16.

Experts within the farming industry have said that a mixture of tiredness, old equipment, pressure from suppliers and unfamiliarity with new machinery, all play their role in enabling these farming tragedies to happen.

Mrs Whipps says that some farmers were complacent when it comes to health and safety and that the statistics should be seen as a warning to farmers.

“In most other industries, risk assessments are a necessity and I think farming has to rise up to this level.” Said Mrs Whipps.

She added: “People say there is a lot of red tape in the industry, but it is there for a reason – because of these incidents.”

A survey by the Farm Safety Foundation discovered that even though 96% of farmers, under the age of forty, felt as though they were well informed on health and safety issues, 57% of them admitted to taking risks.

Also, nearly 50% of farmers, under the age of forty, admitted that how they worked on the farm was determined by how their parents had worked it and 85% said that when growing up on a farm, most jobs end up becoming ‘a habit’.

Mrs Whipps said that everybody has a responsibility to their employees and themselves to adhere to health and safety.

On-site training and education will be key to improving upon the industries dreadful health and safety record, says Mrs Whipps. She also believes that compulsory risk assessments might help to improve things.

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