As the fifth annual ‘Farm Safety Week’ comes to a close, we take a look at the improvement of health and safety in the agricultural sector.

Statistics show that agriculture is still one of the most dangerous industries, with the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors.

Other (non-fatal) incident statistics are also high, and there is a concern that many less serious incidents are not being reported.

For the period 2016/17, thirty people were killed in agriculture. That is two less than the five year average but still one more than last year. The majority of deaths were caused by farm vehicles. In Scotland there were five fatalities.

Looking more specifically at who is particularly at risk within the industry, the figures show that when compared to younger age groups, the fatal injury rate is twice as high for 60-64 year olds and four times as high for those aged over 65. In addition, the majority of people killed were self-employed.

Common causes of agriculture accidents

A common theme in the summaries of the injuries is that people were often working alone.

That coupled with a lack of personal protective equipment and in some cases, a lack of training, has unfortunately sustained the high level of fatalities in this industry.

Working alone is often necessary on a busy farm but having suitable training for use of equipment, ensuring that the equipment is properly maintained, and also having support e.g. telling someone where you are working and what you are doing (particularly if there is a lack of phone signal at the site) are just some of the steps that can be taken to try to lessen the risks associated with working alone.