04/11/2010

Farming Safety Gains 'Wiped Out'

A sharp rise in the number of people killed or seriously injured on British farms has wiped out previously achieved safety gains.

New figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that in Britain between April 2009 and March 2010, the number of reported major injuries, such as broken bones or amputations, rose to 640, up from 599 the previous year.

The number of major injuries has now increased by more than 40% in the last three years.

In June it was announced that 38 people died as a result of work on farms last year – up from 25 twelve months ago and above the average of 37 for the previous five years. With a rate of fatal injuries to workers in 2009/10 of 8 per 100,000, agriculture remains Britain’s most dangerous industry.

Sandy Blair, HSE’s Board champion for Agriculture, said: “The agricultural community has responded magnificently to our Make the Promise campaign to improve safety in farming, and we’ve seen everyone from industry leaders like the National Farmers Unions for England, Scotland and Wales to individual farmers getting behind the initiative.

“But these figures show the reality of what we are dealing with – deaths have returned to previous levels and serious injuries are still steadily increasing.

“This isn’t about statistics – it is about the farming community itself being able to take action to prevent these serious, life-changing or life-ending injuries. If we’re going to see sustainable change, it needs to be lead from within farming itself.

“More worrying is the estimate that only around 30% of agricultural injuries are reported.

“Each death or injury leaves a trail of misery and suffering for individuals and farming families. It’s more important than ever that we work together to get this right.”

Across all industries in 2009/10, 152 workers were fatally injured in Britain – down from 179 the previous year. This is the lowest level on record, with 2.1 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Although only around 1.5% of the working population is employed in agriculture, it accounted for one in four work-related deaths last year.

The number of injuries serious enough to keep farmers off work for three or more days fell slightly, to 1096 from 1188. Estimated levels of work-related ill health in agriculture have also gone down.

(BMcN/KMcA)

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