Incidents involving moving vehicles are the number one cause of death in agriculture in the UK, according to the HSE’s agriculture sector lead, Adrian Hodkinson, writes farming journalist, Catherina Cunnane.
Incidents involving moving vehicles have been responsible for 30% of all fatalities on UK farms over the past five years alone.
Hodkinson said that “48 lives have been lost in incidents that have destroyed farming families, and many more are hurt in incidents involving moving vehicles on farms every year”.
The Health and Safety Executive – which is Britain’s workplace regulator – has launched a new campaign, entitled Work Right Agriculture, to help farmers keep safe when there are moving vehicles.
The body says there are three pieces in the vehicle safety jigsaw:
- Operating a safe farm;
- Maintaining a safe vehicle;
- Being a safe driver.
Hodkinson said: “Together, these pieces will help to keep everyone on farms safer. If one piece is missing, the risks increase.”
“In relation to having a safe environment/farm, it is about its layout. Think about how you segregate people from machinery. It is really crucial to keep people, pedestrians, away from moving machines.”
“It is a good idea to maybe have a marked route where you have frequent crossings, put up a barrier or posts for when opening the shed doors just to make you stop, think, and look around for vehicles.”
“Put up signs to warn people that this is where people are going to be walking. Have mirrors on the corners of buildings so you can see around and see what is coming and maybe improving lighting, as it has become better nowadays with LED, ect.”
“Therefore, you can really improve the lighting effectively on farms. Also, make sure that people are visible.”
“For example, at night when it is getting dusky, ensure you are wearing high-vis clothing so drivers coming onto the farm or in the farmyard can see you.”
“It is so important that you have good lighting and that people can be seen.”
“With signage, you do not want to go overboard, but you could erect signs just before approaching a busy area where people may be, for example, near the farmhouse, or where children may be present, just to slow the driver down. Putting up signage where needed can really make a difference.”
Making 2023 a safer year on our farms
Sue Thompson, HSE’s head of agriculture policy, said: the body desire to make 2023 a safer year on our farms by working together to prevent injuries and deaths.
“We want to support the farming community to show that safety on the farm does not need to be difficult or expensive. There are simple steps you can take today to help keep you and everyone on your farm safe.
Thompson added that farmers and farm workers should take a moment to think about what would happen to their families and their farms if they were seriously injured and unable to work.
When people on farms start their daily routine, they should follow the HSE’s safe farm, safe driver, and safe vehicle advice to help plan the job and complete it safely, Thompson concluded.