20th April 2017

Health and Safety Alert - Agriculture

Fatality Rate 20x Higher for Agriculture than other Industries

Fatal injuries in the UK Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sector have historically been much higher than in other industries. In its last sector specific report issued in October 2015, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) highlighted that the rolling average fatality rate in the sector was 9.12 per 100,000 employees, compared with an average over all industries of 0.46 fatalities per 100,000 employees. In the reporting year 2015/2016, the HSE recorded 27 fatalities at work in the sector and issued a detailed report in July 2016 on the causes with a breakdown of the statistics http://www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture/pdf/fatal1516.pdf  

A recent reminder of the Health and Safety risks faced by workers in Agriculture is to be found in a case reported by the HSE on 20th March 2017  It concerned a farming partnership which was fined £60,000 following the death of a farm manager in Staffordshire.  The manager (John Mills) fell more than 14 feet from a fragile roof while dismantling farm buildings in Hyde Lea on land owned by the partnership. Mr Mills used a ladder to climb onto the roof to cut bolts holding roof panels in place, but the roof gave way. He was taken to hospital but died a short time later from serious head injuries.

The partnership had told the court it assumed their manager’s day-to-day running of the farm meant he was ultimately responsible for health and safety matters, when in fact they were the duty holders with responsibility for their employees. The partnership gave no advice to its employees about how fragile the roof was, nor was there any planning or safe method of work in place.

The HSE Inspector said: “This death was a tragedy for everyone associated with the farm, including the duty holders themselves. John Mills was a stalwart for the farm whose death was avoidable. This case sends a very important message to farm owners that they are very clear on where their responsibilities lie, and then to act on those obligations.”

The presence of often fast moving heavy machinery and the prevalence of lone working makes farms particularly at risk when it comes to Health and Safety. The HSE issues helpful guidance about how those risks can be managed and what farm businesses should consider when looking at their workplaces from the point of view of minimising injuries (see Farmwise guidance)

For further assistance please contact Peter McLuckie in our Corporate and Commercial team.

Scottish Agriculture Fatality Rate higher than other industries