Steep Rise In Farm Worker Fatalities Over Past Year

The latest figures from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) show that there were 34 deaths in the agriculture, fishing, and forestry sector in 2020-21. This represents a rise of 60% from last year’s figure of 21 deaths, and is higher than the five-year average of 28.

Farmer’s Guide reports that overall, 142 workers were killed in accidents at work over the past 12 months, and more than half of these were in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and the construction sectors. The rate of accidental death in the agricultural sector is currently 20 times the average across all industries.

The three most common causes of fatal injuries to workers are falling from height (35) being struck by a moving vehicle (25) and being struck by a moving object (17). The figures released by the HSE all relate to accidents, and do not include deaths caused by occupational exposure to disease, including Covid-19.

HSE’s chief executive, Sarah Albon, said: “Whilst the working world in which we now live has created new health challenges for workers and for those who have a duty towards them, safety must also remain a priority.”

Albon continued: “Whilst the picture has improved considerably over the longer term and Great Britain is one of the safest places to work in the world, every loss of life is a tragedy, we are committed to ensuring that workplaces are as safe as they can be and that employers are held to account and take their obligations seriously.”

About 30% of all the fatal injuries were caused to workers aged 60 or over, even though they only make up about 11% of the workforce according to the HSE.

Self-employed workers were also substantially more at risk, with the figures showing that in the five-year period to March 2021, 60 of the fatal injuries occurred to self-employed workers in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector. The overall rate of fatal injury per worker in the sector is 11.37 per 100,000 workers.

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