By Michael Valenzia, Regional Director of CLA South East
The farming industry has a woeful safety record, which stubbornly shows little sign of improvement, with sobering statistics presented each year.
Agriculture has the worst rate of worker fatal injury of the main industrial sectors. It is 18 times as high as the average rate across all industries. Statistics for 2020/2021 show there were 34 deaths in agriculture, forestry and fishing, an increase of 13 from last year. The five-year average for fatal injuries in this sector is 28.
Farmers are often short on time, rushing from one job to the next, which can lead to shortcuts or the neglect of safe practices. Some farmers can also be guilty of taking a perverse pride in the number of overtime hours they work. These factors, combined with what is sometimes a cavalier attitude to safety, is a dangerous combination.
Public walking on farmland
It is not just farmers at risk; each year there are cattle-related incidents involving members of the public walking on farmland with and without dogs. The impact of the global pandemic with more people accessing the countryside has only heightened this risk.
Farmers and landowners should look to mitigate the risk of these incidents by carrying out risk assessments when contemplating where to graze their cattle, particularly on fields accessible to the public via a Right of Way. Signage can help improve public awareness and electric fencing can separate cattle.
This is Farm Safety Week, but it is not just important for one week of the year. “Come home safe” should be the message all farmers give themselves as they leave the breakfast table.
CLA South East represents thousands of farmers, landowners and rural businesses in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight. We would like to see safety built into the mind-set of every farmer, who continually assess and evaluate the risks they and others are exposed to as they go about their day.
For more information about the CLA and its work, visit https://www.cla.org.uk/in-your-area/south-east/ and follow @CLASouthEast on Twitter.