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Highest Rate of Fatal Accidents Within Agriculture Industry

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By Sally Roff


Published 25 July 2018


The Health and Safety Executive's ("HSE") latest annual statistic show that the agriculture sector continues to have amongst the highest incidence rate of fatal accidents per 100,000 workers.  HSE reports that with a rate of 8.44 per 100,000 workers, agriculture was second only to the waste industry in 2017/18. 

HSE also reports that when looking at the average picture over the period 2013/14 – 2017/18, in order to smooth out year on year fluctuations, agriculture actually fares worst of all over this period.

In 2017/18 there were a total number of 29 fatal injuries to workers in the agriculture sector, which includes those involved in the forestry and fisheries industries. In addition, agricultural work activities resulted in 4 fatal accidents to members of the public.

Overall, workers in the agricultural sector were found to be 18 times more likely to be killed when compared with the average rate of fatal accidents across all industry.

The figures come from HSE's latest annual statistics recently published for accidents in 2017/18 and which show that the overall number of fatal accidents to workers in Great Britain was 144. The figures show that following a marked decline in the number of fatal accidents from 233 in 2007/8, since 2013/14 the figure has plateaued at an average of 141. The data is extracted from RIDDOR reportable accidents notified to HSE, Local Authorities or the Office of Rail and Road.

The rate of fatal accidents in self-employed workers was more than double that for employees, and with a large number of self-employed workers in the agriculture sector, 44% of all fatal accidents to self-employed workers occurred within the agriculture sector.

The main causes of fatal accidents in the agriculture sector are workers struck by moving vehicles or other objects, falling from height, killed by an animal, coming in to contact with electricity and trapped by something collapsing. Nearly half the workers killed were over 65.

Sally Roff, DAC Beachcroft's National Head of Regulatory, said:

"These statistics highlight the risks to all workers in the agriculture industry and should act as a reminder to organisations and individuals of the need to ensure that all risks are considered and controlled as far as reasonably practicable.

At such a busy time of year for the agricultural sector, organisations would be well advised to ensure machinery is in good condition and care is taken when carrying out maintenance, including ensuring machinery is turned off and isolated beforehand. Organisations and workers should also make sure that stacking is properly planned to avoid risks from falling objects. Finally, care should be taken to manage risks to workers from the ongoing warm weather."