Farming can be a dangerous business. In fact The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) says that the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industry is the riskiest sector in terms of fatal injuries. With 1 in 100 workers (employees and the self-employed) working in agriculture, the industry accounts for 1 in 5 fatal injuries.
Fortunately, since the 1970’s fatal injuries have fallen significantly, but the last ten years has seen almost one person a week killed as a direct result of agricultural work, with scores of others seriously injured or made ill.
Why is the potential for injury in farming work so significant?
Agricultural workers regularly come in to contact with large machinery, hazardous chemicals (such as pesticides), fragile farm buildings and confined spaces such as silos, slurry pits and fuel storage tanks.
They are often required to move heavy and cumbersome items such as hay bales and animal feed without having been provided with correct lifting training or suitable mechanical equipment, which puts workers at risk of back injuries.
One of the main causes of death and major injury in agriculture are falls from height. Work on farm roofs during unsuitable weather and time constraints is a common factor. Throw the unpredictability of livestock into the mix and it is easy to see why agricultural industries carry so much risk.
I acted on behalf of a young man employed at a pig farm in Leicestershire. He was seriously injured in two of three separate incidents in a six month period. Each incident was entirely avoidable, and all were as a result of careless working practices.
The attitude of his employer seemed to be that there was no duty for them to take any steps to keep their employees safe. My client was put under significant pressure not to claim compensation and even after liability was admitted he was dismissed from his job for being ‘unlucky’.
Anecdotal evidence from fellow solicitors suggests to me that this attitude by employers within the farming industry is not at all unusual.It is not just employers that need to take care though. Employees have a duty to take care towards their own health and safety, as well as that of colleagues and co-workers.
Accidents are impossible to eliminate completely, however following rules, regulations and guidance helps considerably reduce injuries and deaths.
Our personal injury and employment law experts are happy to work with farmers and their workers to ensure health and safety procedures are in place and also to deal with the aftermath of accidents. For further information, call us on 0114 218 4000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.