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2 July 2014 10:34:31 |Finance,News

Fatalities fall but cost of serious farm accidents continues to rise

The Health & Safety Executive revealed today that farm deaths have fallen from last year’s figures. Accidents involving machinery (including injuries caused by PTO shafts) were the most common and costly farm injury and fatality claims during 2013, costing over £19 million. However, falls (including falls from height) and injuries sustained whilst handling livestock are also of serious concern.
Judith Hackitt, the HSE Chair, said: “The release of the annual statistics always leads to mixed emotions. Sadness for the loss of 133 lives, and sympathy for their families, friends and workmates, but also a sense of encouragement that we continue to make progress in reducing the toll of suffering.
“Whilst these are only provisional figures, they confirm Britain’s performance in health and safety as world class. For the last eight years we have consistently recorded one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries to workers among the leading industrial nations in Europe.”
Minister of State for Health and Safety, Mike Penning, said: "Any death at work is a death too many. But these statistics show that workplaces are getting safer.
"The Health and Safety Executive do an excellent job in making sure each and every one of us can go out to do an honest day's work in the knowledge that our safety is being taken seriously."
Commenting on the figures, NFU Mutual Chairman, Richard Percy said: “Whilst we welcome the small but significant reduction in fatalities, our claims data shows that the farming community is still not winning its battle with farm accidents as the number of serious accidents (where someone suffers a life-changing injury and may require a lifetime of specialist care), remains high.
“I, like many farmers, have witnessed the devastation that farm accidents cause and I shudder to think what would happen to most family farms if a key family member was killed or injured in a farm accident. I can imagine the devastating impact such an incident would have - both emotionally and financially - in my own family business. That is why working safely and looking out for one another is so important.”
Falls from height, like accidents with machinery, usually result in very serious life-changing injuries and the cost of claims in 2013 reached over £3.7 million but the emotional cost of these injuries is immeasurable.
Livestock related injuries and fatalities cost over £2.5 million, with 87% of livestock-related injuries being caused by cattle.
Working alongside the Farm Safety Partnerships around the UK, NFU Mutual is committed to reducing the number of farm fatalities and accidents and recently formed its Farm Safety Foundation to help educate and support farmers. With an initial donation of £250,000 and a commitment to provide substantial funding for this foundation for the next five years, NFU Mutual hopes to address the emotional and financial devastation caused by farm accidents, as NFU Mutual Chairman, Richard Percy explains:
“We have to remember that behind each statistic is a family tragedy and that’s why we are determined to drive down the number of fatalities and accidents on UK farms. We have a modern, professional and dynamic farming industry in the UK and we are respected around the world for our welfare standards and our innovation. We need to apply this professionalism to our own safety and the safety of our employees and family members.”
Members of NFU Mutual’s Farm Safety Foundation are at The Livestock Event at the Birmingham NEC, to distribute safety information to the public as part of the Yellow Wellies farm safety campaign.
As part of the Yellow Wellies campaign and to encourage farmers to work safely, a pair of giant yellow wellies, emblazoned with the slogan ‘who would fill your boots?’ stand as a poignant reminder of the emotional and financial effect that farm accidents have on farming families across the UK.
Farming organisations are working hard to improve the UK’s farm safety record, the NFU said today.
They show a fall in fatal accidents this year to 27 workers – down from 29 workers in 2012/13.
The Farm Safety Partnership, which is chaired by the NFU, is an industry-led initiative committed to improving agriculture’s safety record and to help reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries.
NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “While any drop in the statistics is welcome news, we must not forget that every number represents many shattered lives. The NFU is actively working to help raise awareness of health and safety issues across the industry. The Farm Safety Partnership is leading the way to raise awareness - with each organisation that is represented dedicated to raising safety standards.
“Just taking a moment to stop and think about what could go wrong could save your life. Farm Safety Week is designed to raise awareness of health and safety and advise of simple steps that everyone can take. I would urge everyone to check equipment such as machinery and ladders for faults, wear appropriate footwear particularly when dealing with livestock to prevent crush injuries and make sure that you carry a mobile phone on you in a secure chest pocket - calling 999 or 112 will work wherever there is any mobile coverage - not just from your mobile provider.
“The NFU produces a number of safety related briefings and business guides to help farmers consider the risks from their activities. We also support new initiatives like the NFU Mutual Farm Safety Foundation which is looking at challenging perceptions in the industry. We are committed to helping to reduce these accident statistics and believe that a good safety record is proof of a professional, modern industry.”
The new figures also show the rate of fatal injuries in several key industrial sectors:
- There were 27 fatal injuries to workers in agriculture, lower than the average of 33 for the previous five years. The rate of fatal injury in 2013/14 is 8.77, compared to the five-year average rate of 9.89.
- There were 42 fatal injuries to workers in construction, lower than the average figure of 46. The latest rate of fatal injury is 1.98 per 100, 000 workers, compared to a five-year average of 2.07.
- There were 4 fatal injuries to workers in waste and recycling, lower than the average count of 7 over the last five years. The latest rate of 3.33 deaths per 100, 000 compares to an average rate of 5.48
Across Great Britain:
- 106 fatal injuries in England were recorded - a rate of 0.41 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 134 deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the 119 deaths (and rate of 0.47) recorded in 2012/13
- 20 fatal injuries in Scotland were recorded - a rate of 0.78 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 21 deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the 23 deaths (and rate of 0.90) recorded in 2012/13
- 7 fatal injuries in Wales were recorded - a rate of 0.52 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 10 deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the 8 deaths (and rate of 0.61) recorded in 2012/13
HSE has also today released the latest number of deaths from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. These show that 2,535 people died in 2012, which is an increased from 2,291 in 2011.
Judith Hackitt said: "The high numbers of deaths relating to mesothelioma are a reminder of historically poor standards of workplace health and safety, which decades later are causing thousands of painful, untimely deaths each year. While we now recognise and are better positioned to manage such health risks, these statistics are a stark reminder of the importance of keeping health standards in the workplace on a par with those we apply to safety.”
Farming VIPs pledge support on farm safety
NFU President Meurig Raymond today signified his support of the Yellow Wellies Farm Safety campaign – by signing a giant pair of wellington boots.
Pledging to “support farming safely and encourage others to do the same,” he was joined at farming industry event, Livestock, by campaign ambassador Jim Chapman, who lost his arm in a PTO shaft accident aged just 23 and National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs Chairman Claire Worden
The campaign, which asks the farming community “Who would fill your boots?” in the event of an accident or death is delivering the message that it’s worth taking the time to farm safely, not only for farmers but their family and friends’ sake too.
Over the course of Farm Safety Week (30th June-6th July), the campaign will release daily advice based on key risks posed to farmers. On top of this, farmers can also put their safety skills to the test at Livestock by playing Keep Clive Alive – an interactive game that tests reaction speeds.
The initiative was made possible by the newly formed Farm Safety Foundation an organisation with the mission to create a culture of safe farming. The NFU Mutual board has committed to provide financial support for the foundation, including a £250,000 donation for its first year.


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