Fatal incident statistics 2014-15

3 July 2015

It was a rather ironic coincidence that HSE released its latest fatal incident statistics report for 2014-15  on 1 July, the very day that Lord Selbourne's Blackmoor Estates' Farm Manager Andrew Stocker was sent to prison for two and a half years and the company were fined £75,000 at Winchester Crown Court for breaches of the HSW Act after a double fatality in their apple store. [See BBC News report]

National Regulators’ reports confirm agriculture still ‘the most dangerous industry’

HSE’s provisional figures for 2014-15 show that farming remains the most dangerous industry in GB with the highest rate of fatal injuries. A total of 37 people were killed in the agricultural industry in England, Scotland and Wales.  These included 33 workers (a 22% increase from last year’s 27). 14 were employees and 19 were self-employed. In addition, 4 members of the public also died in accidents on farms in 2014-15.

Overall, agriculture accounted for 23% of all workplace deaths in England, Scotland and Wales in 2014-15 and the rate of fatal injuries (9.12 per 100,000 workers) remains higher than any other industry, and is ~6x that in construction.

This picture is mirrored in Ireland where the HSA reported that 30 people were killed on Irish farms last year (2014), making it one of their worst years on record for safety. And in Northern Ireland, another 7 deaths occurred on farms during 2014. Sadly, several of these were young children – more on that topic later in Farm Safety Week.

Meanwhile HSENI’s  ‘STOP and Think SAFE’ campaign continues to focus on their four main causes of fatalities on local farms, ie Slurry, Animals, Falls (from height) and Equipment (hence ‘SAFE’). Similar themes are being promoted by the other national Farm Safety Partnerships (FSPs).

Several RIG members are actively engaged in the FSPs, eg in Ireland, and on the Board of FSP (England) + chairing the FSP’s Machinery and Livestock Safety Groups.  Also as members of the HSE’s Agricultural Industry Advisory Committee (AIAC) and its various sub groups, including the ‘Strategy’, ‘Large Employers’ and Arboriculture and Forestry Advisory Group (AFAG). 
Not the full story?

It must also be remembered that the HSE’s published statistics do not reveal the full number of deaths related to farming and other land-based industries. Each year additional incidents are noted, eg from media reports. However, some of these are excluded from HSE’s statistics, eg if the premises was enforced by a local authority, or on a rail crossing (investigated by ORR).

They may also be deemed non-reportable under RIDDOR. A common example of this is road traffic accidents involving tractors or other agricultural vehicles.  Although these may be caused by issues such as poor maintenance, insecure loads or inadequate training, they are investigated and enforced by the police and only recorded by the Department for Transport.

Not the first farmer imprisoned for manslaughter, either!

One such incident which resulted in the death of an untrained 16 year old student using a telehandler on the road led to the first custodial sentence of a farmer, way back in 2001. To remind yourself about that case, see BBC News 26 October 2001

Other information on fatalities

Members have asked for HSE to publish details of incidents regularly so news can be spread – and lessons learned - throughout the industry as soon as possible. 

The names and basic details of fatalities are published monthly on the HSE website, and it is possible to identify relevant incidents and their locations.  However, this ‘on-line’ list  cannot be directly compared with the formal published report, eg because subsequent investigation may determine that some deaths were not reportable under RIDDOR (eg due to natural causes, or suicide). Occasionally, others not listed come within scope too.