With high accident numbers and rates of fatal injury, agriculture, forestry and fishing is the riskiest industry sector to work in. The latest HSE figures show that between April 2015 and March 2016, there were 29 fatalities in this sector.
There are a couple of small positives to take from this - for the second year running, none of these fatalities were children under 16; and this year, there were no fatalities in the under 24s. We can also take heart from the statistics which show a progressive fall in fatalities over the last five years.
In the report, the HSE doesn’t speculate why the number of fatalities is coming down. However, it is not being complacent about the statistics, saying, “The number of fatal injuries in the agriculture sector each year continues to be a cause of concern”.
Carelessness cost lives
Further investigation reveals an interesting trend in the ages of the people who were killed in accidents - half of the fatalities happened to people over the age of 65, which leads to speculation that accidents may have been caused by the complacency of the people involved.
When you look at the specific incidents which weren’t caused by tractors and ATVs, it’s natural to surmise that perhaps there was an element of carelessness - three deaths from falls from fragile roofs, one man was asphyxiated when hay bales fell on him, two died when they became trapped in a slurry pit when attempting to clear a blocked pipe, and two got trapped inside machinery.
HSE’s latest statistics show there were around 15,000 non-fatal accidents reported in 2015/16. These were caused by slips, trips and falls, animal injuries, lifting and handling, falls from a height, being struck by an object, and contact with machinery - most of which could probably have been avoided by people taking greater care.
That’s why HSE has produced updated guidelines on the effective use of safety signage and instructions in order for employers to comply with the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.