Why are you 18 times more likely to be killed working in agriculture?
HSE has recently published 3-5 year plans for 19 different sectors of the UK’s workplaces. Of particular interest to SML Clients are the ones for Manufacturing, Construction, Logistics and transport and, increasingly Agriculture.
The Agricultural sector is one close to my heart, coming from dairy farming background and subsequently spending time inspecting farms in the Peak District as an HSE Inspector. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, working on, and then trying to improve health and safety standards on farms; both were hard jobs, and still are. The numbers speak for themselves: the sector employs 1% of the nations workforce but accounts for 20% of fatalities. In 1981 the fatal injury rate per 100,00 workers was 9.5, last year it was 7.6; some improvement, but still a way to go to be comparable with similar sectors, such as Construction which has a rate of 1.37. You are 18 times more likely to be killed working on a farm than in the rest of UK industry. A poignant statistic is that 85% of all fatalities in Agriculture last year were people over 65. It seems a life time’s experience offers no greater protection.
There are lots of people and organisations doing their best to improve safety in Agriculture, such as Rick Brunt at HSE, the AIC, the NFU and, who’d have thought, Al Murry the Pub Landlord is also doing his bit!
So why are you 18 times more likely to be killed working in agriculture? As with all such complex questions there are many reasons. When I was working on farms, 25 years ago, safety was unheard of; my multiple trips to A+E were testament to that. For many farmers, especially smaller ones, safety is still not a priority. Making it a priority is the challenge before us.