Revolutionising Farm Safety: HSE’s Call to Action

Farmers, it’s time for a shift in mindset when it comes to safety. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), our workplace regulator, is gearing up for a series of inspections over the coming months, and it’s a call for change in the farming industry.

A Sobering Reality

The statistics speak for themselves – individuals working in the agricultural sector are 21 times more likely to experience workplace accidents leading to fatalities compared to other industries. Over the last five years, there have been 161 fatalities on British farms, averaging to 26 people each year, including members of the public and children.

A Dual Purpose Campaign

The inspections will extend across England, Scotland, and Wales, with a dual purpose of transforming the industry’s culture and ensuring compliance with long-standing legal requirements. HSE has ambitious plans to conduct 440 visits during this campaign, and their mission goes beyond a mere checklist.

Areas of Focus

Starting this week and continuing through next April, the inspections will home in on the primary causes of fatalities in farming, including working with cattle, the operation and maintenance of vehicles, and falls from heights. Moreover, there will be a focus on assessing risks to the public, which often involves the management of cattle near public rights of way and ensuring child safety on the farm.

Change Starts with Awareness

One of the HSE inspectors helping organise and support the visits, Kathy Gostick, emphasised the importance of this campaign. “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.”

A Call for a Paradigm Shift

Although the number of deaths in the agricultural sector has fallen by around half since the early 1980s, the rate of fatalities, based on the number of people at work in the sector, remains stubbornly high.

This figure is much higher than comparable industries. In a bid to reduce that number, Kathy Gostick has called for farmers to stop and think differently about their own and other people’s safety.

Holding Employers Accountable

“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.”

“These upcoming inspections will help drive home the message that the only way we can bring down the numbers being injured or killed is if we change behaviour.”

Kathy Gostick – HM Inspector of Health and Safety

A Collaborative Effort

Alongside inspections, HSE regularly provides advice on safe practices to key industry stakeholders, including at agricultural shows. The regulator is a key member of the Farm Safety Partnership.

Taking Practical Steps for Safety

Farmers can take several simple actions to reduce key risks:

  • When using and maintaining vehicles, consider ‘Safe Farm, Safe Driver, Safe Vehicle’ and follow ‘Safe Stop’ and use adequate props during maintenance.
  • When handling cattle, ensure good handling facilities are in place and used and consider protection of members of the public when cattle are kept in fields with public access.
  • When considering working at height, avoid doing the work yourself – use a professional contractor instead. Never be tempted to use the wrong equipment.
  • When considering children on farms, try to avoid them being there in the first place, and if not, full and complete supervision is required.

Earlier this year, HSE launched ‘Your Farm – Your Future,’ a campaign focused on the number one cause of fatalities in agriculture – moving vehicles. The campaign website brings together lots of great advice on controlling the key risks.

We Can Help:

Farmers, your safety is our priority, and we’re here to help you thrive in a safer environment. The recent campaign by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has shed light on the need for change in the farming industry.

We understand the unique challenges you face, and we’re committed to assisting you on this journey to a safer future in farming. Our expertise and guidance will empower you to not only meet the requirements of this campaign but also transform the way you approach safety in your operations.

Count on us for valuable insights and unwavering support as we work alongside you in your journey towards a safer farming future.

(Note: This blog post is an expansion of the original article provided by HSE on October 25, 2023. – HSE to visit farms as part of national inspection campaign | HSE Media Centre)

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