Health and Safety Executive
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Farming safety gains wiped out, new statistics reveal

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 per cent 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 led from within farming itself.

"More worrying is the estimate that only around 30 per cent 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."

NFU President, Peter Kendall, said:

"The HSE's figures make sobering reading and must strengthen the industry's determination to reverse this tragic record.

"All too frequently someone dies or is seriously injured in a farm accident. These accidents destroy lives and have a devastating impact on the families and businesses.

"As a farmer I know our workplace can be unpredictable, so working safe can be a big challenge. But we know better than any regulator the solutions to staying safe on farm. The NFU is determined to play its part in trying to reduce farm fatalities, dispel the myths and change traditional attitudes.

"That is why the NFU hosted the Farm Safety Summit in September with HSE and why I was so encouraged by the positive and constructive discussion across our industry."

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 per cent 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.

Notes to editors:

  1. The statistics are available online at http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/index.htm1
  2. The Labour Force Survey is a survey of households living at private addresses in the UK. Its purpose is to provide information on the UK labour market which can then be used to develop, manage, evaluate and report on labour market policies, and includes questions about work-related ill health, which HSE then publishes. The survey is managed by the Office for National Statistics in Britain.
  3. The reporting of health and safety incidents at work is a statutory requirement, set out under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). A reportable incident includes: a death or major injury; any accident which does not result in major injury, but the injured person still has to take four or more days off their normal work to recover; a work-related disease; a member of the public being injured as a result of work-related activity and taken to hospital for treatment; or a dangerous occurrence (which does not result in a serious injury, but could have done).
  4. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk2

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