HSE to inspect 440 farms as part of workplace safety campaign

The visits, from this week to next April, will focus on the main causes of death in farming
The visits, from this week to next April, will focus on the main causes of death in farming

Farmers are being reminded of looming safety inspections as part of a national initiative to drive down the number of on-farm fatalities and injuries.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will visit farms across England, Scotland and Wales to check for compliance with long standing legal requirements.

HSE plans to carry out 440 visits during the campaign, which starts this week to next April.

The visits will focus on the main causes of death in farming, including working with cattle, operating and maintaining vehicles and falls from height.

They will also look at risks to members of the public, which often means the management of cattle around public rights of way, as well as child safety on the farm.

People on farms are 21 times more likely to be killed in a workplace accident than other sectors, according to the watchdog's figures.

In total, there have been 161 deaths on Britain’s farms over the last five years - an average of 26 people each year, including members of the public and children.

HSE inspector Kathy Gostick has offered advice to farmers: “We will not only be checking farmers’ knowledge of risk but also making sure they understand their responsibility to themselves and others.

"We will look at actions they have taken to control these risks and comply with the law.”

Although, the number of deaths has fallen by around half since the early 1980s, the rate of fatalities, which is based on the number of people at work in the sector, has remained stubbornly high, much higher than comparable industries.

In a bid to reduce that number, Ms Gostick called for farmers to stop and think differently about their own and other peoples’ safety.

“There are simply too many tragedies in farming and it is time for that to change," she said.

“We are committed to making workplaces safer and healthier and that includes agriculture – we will do this by highlighting the risks, providing advice and guidance, and by holding employers to account for their actions.

“This means changing attitudes towards safety – it is the only way we will reduce the numbers of people being injured or killed."