Expert warns farming the most dangerous industry in the UK after three North West deaths

There have been three deaths on North Western farms in the last year.
There have been three deaths on North Western farms in the last year.

An agricultural risk expert is urging farmers to be vigilant after new figures show three people were killed on farms in the North West in just 12 months.


Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have revealed that in 2016/17, agriculture had the highest rate of fatal injury at around 18 times higher than the All Industry rate, with a total of 30 people killed on British farms in the past year – making agriculture the riskiest industry to work in.

The main causes of death were ‘struck by vehicles’ (30 per cent), ‘trapped by something collapsing’ (20 per cent), ‘struck by an object’ (17 per cent), ‘contact with electricity’ (10 per cent), ‘falling from a height’ (seven per cent), and ‘injured by an animal’ (seven per cent).

Richard Wade, of Lycetts Risk Management Services, said: “It is worrying that agriculture remains one of the most dangerous industries, with the high fatality rate far-exceeding other industries.

“While some of these deaths have been the result of freak accidents, many could have been prevented," she added. "Although this is a sad fact, this gives us hope that, with better practice on farms and safer use of machinery, incidents like this could become rarer.

“It is also promising to see that, although the fatal injury rate for agriculture has shown no clear trend over the past 35 years, there are signs of improvement over the past five years.

Agriculture's fatal injury rate is six times that of the construction sector, with deaths in the North West including a 28-year-old self-employed contractor who was electrocuted when his vehicular crane hit an overhead power line.

A 78-year-old self-employed partner in a farming business was killed when run over by his own tractor when he was either adjusting the load or attempting to start the engine, leading the tractor to start and crush him. The handbrake was off. A 57-year-old employee was also killed by a tractor after being knocked to the ground and later dying of his injuries.

“There is a danger that farmers who work for themselves harbour a perception that they do not need to carry out the necessary risk assessments or abide by the health and safety regulations, as they don’t have any employees," Richard added. "But this can have devastating consequences."

For information on keeping your farm safe, visit hse.gov.uk/agriculture.