Farming is the UK’s most dangerous industry

Farmer James Chapman highlights the dangers of farming in poignant new video
Farmer James Chapman highlights the dangers of farming in poignant new video

Today (Monday) marks the start of the fifth annual Farm Safety Week, an initiative launched in 2013 aiming to reduce the number of accidents which continue to give farming the poorest record of any occupation in the UK and Ireland.

Despite over half of all fatal injuries occurring with younger farmers over the age of 65, the fact remains that farm workers of any age run the risk of injury or death.

Farm Safety Foundation, the charity behind Farm Safety Week, has launched an emotive film to warn the people of the UK the dangers of the farming industry. The film features James Chapman, who unfortunately lost his arm working with machinery.

Over a five year period (2012/13-2016/17), on average, one person is killed every 11 days. Agriculture has the worst rate of worker fatal injury (per 100,000) in the main industrial sectors; it is 18 times higher than the All Industry rate. The total number of fatal accidents is falling over time. Over the last 35 years the fatal injury rate for agricultural workers has shown no clear trend, although there are some signs of improvement in the last five years. Agriculture’s injury rate is nearly six times higher than construction’s.

Poorly used or faulty vehicles and machinery are a major cause of death and injury on farms. Farmers come into contact with a host of machinery daily - combines, choppers and hay balers which bring their own attendant dangers. Hands, hair and clothing can be caught by unguarded PTO shafts or other unguarded moving parts such as pulleys and belts. People can be injured by front-end loaders, falling from a moving tractor or being struck by its wheels.

Stephanie Berkeley from the Farm Safety Foundation, the charity behind Farm Safety Week says: “Many farmers think ‘farm safety last’ rather than ‘farm safety first’ but most of these accidents are avoidable. Unlike other occupations, farmers don’t normally retire at 65 and often work well into their 80s. Simple factors such as habit, haste, fatigue, and improperly maintained machinery contribute to this perfect storm but this Farm Safety Week, we hope that by hearing the stories of other farmers such as James Chapman and extraordinary people like Al Murray who have had personal experience of farm accidents, we can get farmers of all ages to realise that this week, and every week, farm safety is a lifestyle, not a slogan.”

For more information on Farm Safety Week or follow @yellowwelliesUK on Twitter/Facebook using the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek