Farm Safety Week (4-8 July 2016)

27 June 2015

RIG members are urged to support the fourth annual Farm Safety Week, which starts on Monday 4 July.  Once again a different case study will be used each day to highlight the hazards and precautions for a range of topics.

The Week is led by the Farm Safety Foundation who developed the excellent Yellow Wellies initiative, targeting younger people with the strap line “Who would fill your boots?”.  The Week is supported by the 5 national Farm Safety Partnerships (FSP), working together with HSE, HSENI and HSA in Ireland. All are particularly concerned that work-related fatalities in the UK and Ireland’s farming industries continue to be disproportionately high compared to other industries.

HSE also intends to launch the latest annual statistics for work related deaths and injuries in agriculture in GB (2015-16) on 6 July, at the Livestock Event being held at the NEC.  This is a welcome return to the traditional date that many of you will be familiar with from years gone by, when the Annual Report was launched during the now defunct Royal Show.

Meanwhile, HSE’s report for last year (2014-15) confirmed that a total of 36 people were killed in farming and other agriculture-related activities (including 4 members of the public) during 2014-15.  This was an incidence rate of 9.12 deaths per 100,000 workers - significantly higher than any other industry sector and 6 times higher than construction.

Rick Brunt, Head of HSE’s Agriculture, Waste and Recycling Sector recently commented that the analysis of deaths in agriculture doesn’t reveal anything new, and shows that transport and animals are still the biggest killers.  Each (incident) is a stark reminder of the needless loss of lives, the vast majority of which would not have happened had there been a little more thought or investment of effort.

Rick called upon members of HSE’s Agricultural Industry Advisory Committee (AIAC) and the FSPs, to use these case studies to remind us that the simple messages such as “Safe Stop” and the work aimed at improving routine tasks like livestock handling and working at heights, needs to continue and remain a key focus if we are to have the impact we intend.  Rick said: “As you will have seen from the system strategy, and from the work we have done together for many years, we firmly believe that, if we are to make a difference, there is a role to play for everyone in the industry.” 

Alan Plom (RIG’s Vice-Chair and IOSH representative on the Board of the Farm Safety Partnership) is therefore urging RIG members to play their part by actively supporting the Farm Safety Week campaign, eg by promoting awareness through their own networks or running initiatives in workplaces during the week to highlight the ‘priority’ topics and tragic ‘case studies’ being featured each day.

The 5 daily themes are (in order):

  • Falls
  • Machinery
  • Livestock
  • Transport
  • Children

Alan said: “Whilst there is some hope shown by the Republic of Ireland, where fatalities in agriculture were down by 40% in 2015 (18 compared to 30 in 2014) [ref HSA Report] and in the first 5 months of 2016, 5 persons have lost their lives in farm accidents compared to 6 in 2015 (vs 12 in 2014), in Northern Ireland, fatalities in the agriculture sector increased to 9 in 2014-15 compared to 4 over the previous year (2013-14). [ref HSENI Annual Report] . From RIG’s analysis of the fatal incidents reported in GB during 2015-16 I fear there will be no improvement here either, so we must all try to do more to bring these horrendous statistics down. 

“Look out for the informative articles which will be posted on RIG’s website each day, as well as announcements in the farming media. And don’t forget to retweet the IOSH Twitter feed [#FarmSafetyWeek]!

“Last year IOSH provided additional examples of relevant incidents and guidance and these will again be highlighted.  Given that farming is 24/7, and many RIG members say that they (and farmers) ‘catch up’ with their emails over the weekend, RIG also extended the ‘Week’ by covering health issues and emergency procedures on Saturday and Sunday, so look out for these too.”

Farm safety week logo