Reducing the Risk of Accidents on Farms
16 November 2018
Farms can be dangerous places and, if things go wrong, farm workers can sustain life changing or even fatal injuries while working. We explore some of the most common types of farm accidents, how to reduce the risks and what to do if you're injured in a farming accident.
Farming is a Dangerous Business
During the last decade, almost one person per week has died as a result of farm work, with many others seriously injured. The farming, forestry and fishing sector sees a higher rate of workplace fatalities than any other industry sector, with a fatality rate that's six times higher than construction and 18 times higher than all other industries.
Farm workers are commonly exposed to hazards such as chemicals, vehicles, livestock, machinery, pits and silos, as well as working at height and being exposed to the elements all year round. Many farm roles are also physically labour intensive, which brings its own risk of injury and health issues which can come on suddenly or develop over time.
According to data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) each year there are over 13,000 accidents reported every year where workers have been injured while working in the farming, forestry and fishing sector.
Common Farming Accidents
On farms during 2017-18, accidents involving cattle accounted for the highest number of fatalities. Workers being struck by a moving vehicle was the next biggest cause of death, with accidents involving tractors, trailers, harvesters and telescopic handlers.
The third biggest cause of fatalities on farms during 2017-18 was accidents where a worker was trapped under something that collapsed. Examples include machinery that was being supported by lifting equipment as well as log stacks and trailers.
Other common farming accidents which caused fatalities during 2017-18 include:
- Slip, trip and fall accidents
- Falling objects (such as a tree, log or part of a building)
- Fall from height accidents
- Contact with electricity
- Injured by machinery.
How to Reduce the Risk of Accidents on Farms
All employers, including those in the agricultural sector, are legally required to take reasonable steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees. This obligation is set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Employers are also required to carry out regular risk assessments to identify any potential hazards that could cause harm to employees, contractors, visitors and anyone else who may be on the farm. For each hazard that is identified, they will need to take steps to ensure compliance with the law, including eliminating risks where possible or controlling them if elimination isn't possible.
As an employee, you can support with this process by highlighting where processes could be made safer and where risks could be reduced.
Although overall responsibility for health and safety will rest with the employer, everyone should look out for the safety of themselves and one other. If you spot a hazard, such as faulty machinery or a spillage for example, then report this. If you witness reckless or dangerous activity being carried out by someone else on the farm, then flag this up. Remain alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.
If you are working with chemicals or dangerous machinery, then make sure you read the instructions and warnings on these carefully. If you're not completely confident in using hazardous equipment or substances then request additional training.
If you are provided with PPE (personal protective equipment) such as boots with steel toe caps, ear defenders, safety glasses, protective overalls or gloves, then make sure you wear these.
If you are an employee working on a commercial farm, then your employer should have a health and safety policy in place which is specific to the farm in question – familiarise yourself with this policy. Most commercial farms will also provide structured health and safety training to employees. Ensure that you take this seriously, listen carefully to the information provided and heed the instructions that you are given.
If You Suffer a Farming Injury
If you have been injured while working on a farm because of someone else's actions or negligence, then you could be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries. Get in contact with a Personal Injury Solicitor who specialises in Farming Accident Claims.
At Co-op Legal Services, we are experienced in dealing with claims relating to workplace accidents on farms. Our Personal Injury Solicitors can assess your claim for free to help you understand whether you have a reasonable chance of success. If we take on your claim, most Personal Injury Claims can be dealt with on a no win no fee basis.