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Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a fifth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the company in 2015.
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‘If cows are better insured than they are, farmers need to have a hard think’

An insurance broker and financial services provider has urged farmers to “stop and think twice” following a surge in agricultural deaths in the UK.

Lycetts has also warned farmers about the dangers of failing to protect their most important asset.

Agricultural deaths

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed that 41 people were killed because of farming and other agriculture-related activities in 2020/21. This is almost double the number of deaths in the previous year.

While the number of people killed fluctuates each year, the five most common causes of fatal injuries over the last five years remain the same.

These include:

  • Being struck by moving vehicles;
  • Killed by an animal;
  • Struck by an object;
  • Falling from height;
  • Contact with moving machinery.
Hazards 

In a statement, Lycetts said:

“Just over one in a hundred personnel work in agriculture. However, the sector accounted for one in four fatal injuries to workers this year.”

“Farmers face a myriad of potential hazards, from contact with machinery and vehicles, chemicals, and livestock, to working at a height, and the demanding, solitary and relentless work associated with agriculture heightens farmers’ exposure to risk.”

“But the same causes of fatal injury crop up time and time again. A change in attitude to risk will be the driving force in changing this narrative.”

Of course, the body added, some of these deaths will be a result of “unfortunate and unforeseeable” accidents.

Reduce risks

However, the body believes, by “scrupulously” carrying out actions, the risk can be “greatly reduced”:

  • Following machinery operation safety procedures;
  • Handling chemicals in the proper manner;
  • Safely checking the robustness of platforms and roofs;
  • Careful handling and securing of livestock;
  • Ensuring jobs that require more than one person have sufficient manpower,

“It is important to note that family members working and living at the farm are also put at risk. Seven members of the public were killed in 2020/21, two were children.”

“A split-second decision can mean the difference between life and death. It is of critical importance that farmers stop, think twice and treat every task with risk management and health and safety at the forefront of their minds.”

The body has urged farmers to not only rethink their attitude to farm safety but also about their own protection.

“It is a common assumption that if something does happen to farmers that their family will automatically get a share of the farm.”

“But even in the most straightforward, clear-cut scenarios, estate settlement can be protracted.”

“Oftentimes, farmers take great care in protecting their assets, be it farm machinery or livestock. However, they don’t give themselves the same consideration.”

“Take a £10,000 bull, for example. Many farmers would not hesitate to insure this bull at a premium of more than £1,000 a year.”

“For comparative purposes, a level term life assurance policy, for a 35-year-old male non-smoker for £100,000 to run until 68, could work out at a tenth of that cost.”

“If cows are better insured than they are, farmers need to have a hard think. Their legacy is surely worth more than that,” the body concluded.

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