Twelve people died in farm accidents in Great Britain in spring 2023, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
In total, there were 27 fatalities across all industries from April to the end of June, meaning agriculture accounted for over 40% of workplace fatalities. Two members of the public also lost their lives on farms during this period.
Tom McNeill, a partner at law firm BCL Solicitors, said the workplace fatality figures for agriculture were particularly severe during this quarter. “There were 21 fatalities in the sector for the whole of 2022-23. This, tragically, reflects a continuing trend in the sector for having the highest fatal accident rate compared with other industries,” he added. Following a fatal accident, this means an increased risk for farmers of being prosecuted for manslaughter; and for farms that are operated through a corporate entity, an increased risk of corporate manslaughter.
“Farms, like other businesses, must meet rigorous health and safety duties. Unlimited fines, and imprisonment for individuals, may follow for those who do not,” Mr McNeill said.
NFU safety campaign
NFU vice-president David Exwood said many farmers were feeling tired this September after a busy harvest.
As part of the NFU’s latest farm safety campaign, “Take 5 to Stay Alive”, Mr Exwood is encouraging all farmers to take a five-minute break to consider safety precautions before undertaking any on-farm tasks.
“Please take five minutes to give yourself a break, because tiredness really does kill,” he added.