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Tag Archive: Accidents at work

Farm Safety Must Improve After Two People Die in Workplace Accidents

Abandoned Tractor in Field | Improving Safety on Farms for Farm Safety Week

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is investigating after two people died in tragic farming-related accidents, just days before the start of national Farm Safety Week 2017.

The first man, named locally as Todd Riggs, was working on a farm in Pitts Cross, Shebbear, when he became trapped under a trailer. Emergency services from South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust and Devon and Cornwall Police were called, but sadly Mr Riggs was pronounced dead at the scene.

The second man was found dead on a farm in Southminster, Essex, after a work-related incident. Little information is known about the circumstances of the man’s death, but Essex Police and the HSE are investigating.

Tributes have poured in for Mr Riggs, who was well-known in the farming community and a member of the Devon Young Farmers’ Club. Speaking to Farmers Weekly, Ed Ford, chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC), said that the death of Mr Riggs has come as “a huge blow to all involved with farm safety” and offered this advice to farmers during one of the busiest times of the year:

“Please, please, please be careful in this very busy time. Carry out safety checks, make sure machines are in good working order, don’t cut corners and don’t rush. How many more lives need to be lost before our industry sorts out its safety record?”

Tragically, Mr Riggs is the second farmer from the Devon Young Farmers’ Club to be killed this year. In March 2017, 20-year-old Lauren Scott from Kenton, near Exeter, was killed after becoming entangled in farm machinery on Springfield Farm near Dawlish, South Devon.

Farm Safety Week Encourages Precaution — But Is It Enough?

Farmer watching plough in field | Farm Safety Advice for Farm Safety Week

Today marks the start of Farm Safety Week 2017, an initiative promoting improved health and safety standards in agriculture. Now in its fifth year, FSW aims to reduce the number of fatal accidents on farms by encouraging farmers to check machinery and avoid taking unnecessary risks at work. The event is supported by several organisations, including Farm Safety Partnership, Farm Safety Foundation and the HSE.

While FSW plays an important role in promoting safer working practices among today’s farmers, the tragic events of last week, coupled with the HSE’s recent workplace fatalities report, suggest that more must be done to improve safety standards on farms — and urgently.

Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the UK, with 27 fatalities in the past year. The industry has a fatality rate 18 times higher than most other sectors, and yet accounts for just 1% of total UK employment. This means that farmers are among the most at-risk workers in the country, second only to construction workers in terms of total annual fatalities.

What’s most worrying about these statistics is that, after two decades of steady decline, the fatality rate for farm accidents is beginning to level off. This suggests that current health and safety provision is no longer adequate in safeguarding the lives of farm workers, and that the HSE may need to rethink its approach on how it continues to govern the safety of the industry.

The vast majority of accidents on farms involve vehicles and machinery, suggesting that greater education is needed in the safe operation of large and dangerous pieces of equipment.

There’s also the average age of farm workers to consider. In its workplace fatalities report, the HSE touched on the issue of age, with older workers 55+ being the most at-risk from serious and fatal injuries at work. Given that the average age of people working on farms in the UK is 59, this could suggest that an ageing workforce is the reason why fatality rates have begun to plateau.

No matter the industry or the average age of the workforce, everyone should enjoy a safe workplace. A cross-industry rethink is needed to tackle the problem of fatalities at work and ensure that UK workers are kept safe, even in the most dangerous of sectors.

If you or someone you know has been affected by workplace injury, find out how our specialist accident at work solicitors can help.

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24/07/2017 No Comments

Workplace Fatalities Falling — But Construction Workers Still Most at Risk

Hard hat after accident at work | Construction workers at risk from workplace fatalities

Work-related fatalities have fallen to the second lowest figure on record, with 137 workers killed between April 2016 and March 2017. This is according to the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), which has this week published its annual report into fatal injuries arising from accidents at work.

Fatal injuries are rare in the workplace. Over the last twelve months, the rate of fatal injury per 100,000 workers was 0.4 — about the same as the previous five years. This reflects a long-term downward trend, and is an encouraging indicator that modern health and safety practices are helping to improve safety standards for the British workforce.

However, while the 2016/17 fatality figure is one of the lowest recorded, there are signs that the two-decade decline in workplace deaths is beginning to level off — raising questions about what more can be done to reduce fatal injuries.

Perhaps more worrying is the fact that the majority of fatal injuries occur in just a handful of industry sectors. HSE figures reveal that around a fifth of all workplace fatalities in 2016/17 occurred in the construction industry, whilst agriculture accounted for an additional 20%. The manufacturing sector had the third highest rate of workplace fatalities, followed by transport and waste recycling.

Given the nature of the work involved, it’s easy to see why labour-intensive industries would have the highest rate of fatal injuries. However, figures from the past five years suggest that fatalities in construction, agriculture and manufacturing have remained broadly level, and have actually increased in waste management and recycling.

The HSE acknowledges that workplace fatality rates are levelling, and has pledged to continue on its “unwavering mission” to prevent injury and death by protecting people and reducing risks in the workplace. But with little evidence to suggest that fatalities have fallen by any significant number over the past decade, are the HSE and other health and safety bodies really doing enough to safeguard people at work?

Fatal Workplace Accidents — Which Workers are Most at Risk?

Farmers at risk from accidents at work | Workplace fatalities falling according to HSE

The HSE fatal injuries report offers deep insight into the prevalence of serious accidents in the workplace, showing the total number of work-related deaths by industry, gender, age and even region within the UK. From this data, it’s possible to assess which workers are most at risk from fatal injury, and where in the country they’re likely to live.

In 2016/17, 97% of all people killed in accidents at work were men, a similar proportion to other years. What is interesting is the age of the workers involved in fatal accidents. HSE data shows that workers aged 60-64 accounted for a quarter of all workplace deaths in 2016/17, whilst workers over 65 had an average fatality rate four times higher than younger workers. These figures are troubling, and suggest that more needs to be done to keep older workers safe, and make them aware of modern health and safety processes.

In terms of fatal injuries per region in the UK, England had a consistently lower rate than Scotland and Wales. However, some areas of the country had a higher prevalence for workplace fatalities than others, with the South West, London, East Midlands, North West and Yorkshire and The Humber accounting for more fatalities than other regions.

Our View on Fatal Workplace Accidents

While the HSE’s report shows a fall in work-related deaths compared to the previous year, the overall picture suggests a levelling off in the reduction of fatal injuries. Some industries actually fared worse in this year’s report, making it clear that significant changes are needed to improve worker safety in some sectors.

It’s worrying that older workers over the age of 60 are more prone to workplace fatalities than any other age group, particularly in industries like agriculture, where health and safety processes are often poorly managed or overlooked. We’re calling on health and safety chiefs to provide greater education to older workers about the importance of adequate safety measures, in the hope that further tragedies can be avoided.

Through our work dealing with accident at work claims, we see the devastating impact fatal and serious injuries in the workplace can have on individuals and their families. That’s why we do all we can to raise awareness for the importance of health and safety processes, and encourage business leaders to take a proactive approach to safeguarding their workforce.

To find out more about how we can help after an accident at work, call us now and our dedicated team will be happy to help you on a free, no obligation basis.

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14/07/2017 No Comments

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