Fatalities in Agriculture - New HSE incident notification system - (#2016/01 - Farm worker drowned)

16 February 2016

RIG is pleased to announce that in response to requests from IOSH and other organisations represented on HSE’s Agricultural Industry Advisory Committee (AIAC), HSE has set up a system to inform stakeholders of fatal accidents as soon as possible after they have occurred, rather than having to wait often months for further information.

This system is intended to assist timely promotion of key health and safety messages.  The details provided by HSE will be based on initial notification information and they will also include any known media coverage.  It is emphasised that these ‘early notifications’ will not fully reflect the detailed circumstances of the incident and whilst HSE will also provide links to existing guidance to help recipients promote health and safety, this should not be taken as implying anything specific about the circumstances of any incident.

In return, recipients are asked to provide feedback to HSE on how the information has been disseminated and used by our members.  Please provide feedback by email.

Farm worker drowned in trench during drainage work

The first official notification from HSE of a fatal accident in 2016 involved drainage work.  A farm worker died while working in a trench carrying out work on a farm drain in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Media reports indicate that the 32 year old man drowned in mud, although other information suggests the trench may have collapsed.

Key messages

  • Work in excavations and ditches gives rise to a risk of injury through the potential collapse of the excavation or ditch sides, or due to water or gases that may be contained within the excavation.
  • Before work begins on excavations or work in ditches it should be planned to ensure that workers are protected against collapse of the side or other risks associated with work in the excavation. 
  • Battering back edges or supporting the sides of excavations reduces the risk of collapse. To protect the public and other workers ensure that excavations are adequately protected by fencing. 
  • Consider whether or not the contents of the trench or ditch give rise to additional hazards, such as asphyxiation or drowning.
  • Provide information, instruction and training, together with adequate monitoring and supervision, to support your safe system of work.

More detailed guidance on excavation work can be found on HSE’s agriculture website and on the Construction pages. The incident has also been reported in the media – includingFarmers Guardian Insight online and by STV News.

You are encouraged to raise awareness of this hazard using this information and to promote the guidance on managing the risks involved in excavation and drainage work on farms. This will be particularly relevant to anyone managing or involved in such work on estates, forestry, etc as well as on farms. 

Please let us know what you think of this style of information and what use you have made of it by email.