The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the national workplace health and safety watchdog, has published its latest report into the number of fatal injuries (deaths) which were caused by accidents on farms from April 2021 to March 2022.
HSE’s report, Fatal injuries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing in Great Britain, provides insight into the very real, ongoing risk of death and serious injury on farms and other agricultural workplaces. It highlights the most common causes of fatal accidents, and the most vulnerable workers. Whilst last year’s statistics show a slight drop in the overall number of these avoidable accidents, HSE believes that standards of farming safety remain a cause for concern.
The agriculture, forestry and fishing industry’s worker death rate is 21 times higher than the average five-year annual rate across all industries. The HSE, Farm Safety Partnerships (FSP) in England, Scotland and Wales, the Agriculture Industry Advisory Committee (AIAC) and farming industry leaders all agree that improvements in farming safety must be prioritised if further serious injury and loss of life is to be avoided.
What does the HSE’s report say about fatal accidents on farms?
HSE’s annual round-up of farming sector fatalities is based on accidental deaths in agricultural environments that were reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). HSE collects and analyses this information for specific industries to identify common causes of accidents, trends and incidence rates, so that it can work out and prioritise where to focus its efforts to help industries, businesses and employers improve workplace safety.
Fatal injuries to agricultural workers from road traffic accidents on public highways or fatal diseases are not included in these statistics.
HSE’s provisional statistics for farming industry workplace deaths in 2021 to 2022 conclude that:
- 25 people were killed in agriculture-related activities;
- 22 of those who died were workers;
- 13 were self-employed;
- 9 were employees;
- 3 of the people who died were members of the public (2 adults, 1 child);
- the oldest farmer who died was 85 years old;
- workers aged 65 and older accounted for more than a third (36% or 8 out of 22) of all worker fatalities;
- five-year average figures for 2017/18 to 2021/22 show that the number of farming industry fatalities in workers aged 65+ was almost double the number in the next highest group;
- the youngest person killed was a nine-year-old child;
- during the five years from 2017/18 to 2021/22, 23 members of the public were killed in farming accidents, of which a third were children;
- 8 children died in accidents on farms in the last five years.
HSE’s report comments that although the number of fatal injuries to workers in the agricultural sector has fallen by around half since the early 1980s, and fell in 2021/22 from the previous year, the rate of fatal injuries (per 100,000 workers) in the agricultural sector remains the highest of all major industries. The agricultural worker fatal injury rate is 21 times higher than the average five-year annual rate across all industries.
In addition to alarmingly high rates of fatal injury, it is also disappointing to see that the most common causes of death in farming and agriculture have not changed for many years.
In 2021/2022, HSE found that the five most common causes of work-related death in agriculture were:
- Accidents involving transport, with incidents such as being crushed by overturning vehicles, run over or being struck by moving vehicles causing most deaths.
- Being struck by a moving vehicle:
- 8 (32%) were killed by being struck by a moving vehicle;
- Accidents involved tractors (3), all-terrain vehicles (ATVs)(2), a 4×4 vehicle, an HGV, and a telescopic handler.
- Being struck by an object:
- 5 (20%) were killed by being struck by an object;
- Accidents included falling trees (2), an exploding tyre and falling bales(2).
- Contact with machinery, during operation or maintenance:
- 4 (16%) were killed by contact with machinery;
- Accidents involved a horse walker, a log splitting machine, a trailer tailgate, and a tractor/topper.
- Falling from height:
- 2 (8%) were killed by falling from heights;
- Accidents included falling through fragile roofs.
- Being crushed or trampled by animals:
- 2 (including a member of the public) were killed by cattle.
- Being trapped by something collapsing:
- 2 were killed by being something collapsing;
- Accidents involved a vehicle and a seed drill.
- 2 were killed by asphyxiation or drowning;
- Accidents included being overcome by slurry fumes and falling into a water drainage barrel.
HSE has indicated that it regards these accidents as a cause for concern, and that improving safety on farms is one of its key ongoing priorities. The safety watchdog says that it will continue to work with farming and forestry industry stakeholders to keep up the pressure to manage risk in the workplace and reduce the likelihood of serious injury and death.
Inquests and Claiming Fatal Injury Compensation
We have represented many bereaved families at inquest where the deceased has died on a farm. Farms commonly have public rights of way which attracts walkers to the beautiful countryside, our home as the Yorkshire Law firm prides itself in having some of the most beautiful countryside. However, we have often seen that if the right of access is not clearly identified and if the farm workplace is not suitably managed this can have catastrophic results when walkers or employees and large plant equipment come into close proximity.
We help families uncover the true facts surrounding the death and to ensure that steps are taken to ensure that the risk of a reoccurrence is minimised usually by way of HSE action and/or the Coroner making a Prevention of Future Death report.
We also specialise in recovering damages as a result of fatal accidents. We recover damages for the pain and suffering endured by the deceased, bereavement damages where possible and loss of dependency, financial and services, such as the loss of wages and/or parental services.
If you or anyone you know requires any advice regarding an inquest and/or claim for damages refer them to your Yorkshire Law Firm, Ison Harrison Solicitors.
Call us on 0113 284 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org