The Workers Union has called for better standards of health and safety on British farms.
In a statement released this morning, a spokesperson for the organisation said: ‘With dangerous machinery and difficult conditions, farms can be hazardous places to work. We’re calling for the industry to take more preventative steps to protect workers from injury.’
The Workers Union’s statement comes after the last year saw several high profile incidents hit the news. In July 2022, a teenage farm worker in Plymouth died when he became ensnared in a bale-wrapping machine Despite the efforts of the emergency services.
In a more recent case (Feb 2023), a farmer was killed and his son received serious injuries in Powys, Wales, after a feed bin fell on them both. Iwan Evans, 78 and his son Daffyd were managing a delivery of animal feed into the free-standing bin when the incident occurred.
The coroner’s report stated that the delivery driver attempted to remove the structure using farm vehicles, but was eventually forced to alert Mr Evans’ wife who rung the emergency services. Responders arrived at the scene and carried out cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before Mr Evans was pronounced deceased at the scene.
To try and reduce the number of injuries sustained by farm workers, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a new farm vehicle safety campaign. The initiative, which is supported by a website, aims to bring together important advice in one place.
The Head of HSE’s agricultural policy, said: ‘We want to make 2023 a safer year on our farms by working together to prevent injuries and deaths.
‘Agriculture consistently has the highest number of fatal and serious injuries of all industry sectors in Great Britain. Over the past five years, the average fatal incident rate is twenty-one times higher in agriculture than the average across all other industries. That is a shocking statistic.
‘It’s time for us to make a change together to make our farms safer, and that’s why we’re asking farmers in England, Scotland and Wales to consider three areas of their daily farming activities and take the right actions to prevent another farming tragedy.’
Safety issues are one of many concerns facing the farming industry. A shortfall in skills and labour has affected the food supply chain, with a 2022 Institute of Agriculture and Horticulture (TIAH) survey highlighting the scale of the recruitment deficit. According to the TIAH, 25 percent of the 681 employees they surveyed said that they were seeking staff, while 63 percent said that vacancies were ‘difficult’ to fill.
The Workers Union Says…
The plight of farm workers is sometimes crowded out of the agenda by other sectors of the economy. But the journey from field to plate is not automatic. It requires skill, effort, commitment and the capacity to work in all weathers.
Farming, it seems, which needs a continual influx of talented farm workers to service our demands for food and other produce, is still lagging behind other industries when it comes to safety.