According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the number of fatal farming injuries has almost halved in recent years but the average worker fatality rate is much higher in farming than in any other industry. Figures for 2012/13 show that 41 per cent of workers injured were farmers and another 17 per cent were farm workers.
The most common causes of fatal injuries are:
Being struck by a moving vehicle
Being struck by moving or falling objects (bales, trees etc)
Falls from height
Asphyxiation or drowning
Contact with machinery
Injury by an animal
Contact with electricity
Incidents that demonstrate the dangers include one of a 30-year-old farm worker who was killed when a 1.5 tonne concrete panel fell on him as he was helping to build a new cow shed. The owners of the farm, T Lea Sherwin Ltd, were prosecuted for failing to provide the correct lifting equipment or carrying out a proper risk assessment. An HSE inspector said, “That the company were experienced in farming but not construction and should have brought in a specialist contractor to build the cow shed instead of ‘carrying on regardless’.
In another incident, a farming family in south Wales was fined after a roof worker fell to his death while he and his sons were working on the roof of a cowshed. Mr Clarke had not produced any evidence of his ability or expertise in roof work. In addition, he had limited reading ability and may not have understood the warning signs on the fragile roof.
Diane Parker, partner and head of Atherton Godfrey’s Personal Injury department, said: “In this case, the employers had a legal duty to make sure that Mr Clarke and his sons were competent to carry out the repairs. By failing to do so, they didn’t just expose Mr Clarke to risk, but also anyone else who was in the vicinity while they were working. ”