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February 20, 2024

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Livestock focus as HSE campaign bids to improve safety on Britain’s farms

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) aims to focus on the dangers of livestock as it relaunches its Your Farm, Your Future campaign this month (19 February).

Credit: HSE

HSE statistics show being injured by an animal was the number one cause of work-related deaths on British farms in 2022/23, where there was a total of eight deaths.

Agriculture remains one of the most dangerous of all the main industrial sectors across the country.

Last year’s campaign by HSE focused on transport safety, and today the organisation has relaunched the campaign with new advice on working with livestock, hosted on its Your Farm Your Future campaign website, to assist farmers and workers and keep them safe.

There are measures that can be taken to keep animals and people apart but handlers should be in good health, agile and have the physical ability to do the work.

Further reading: Vetting the vets – can a new study help the sector get the right treatment?

HSE said that together, livestock and farm vehicle incidents account for around a half of all work-related deaths on British farms in the past five years. A total of seventy-seven people lost their lives, and hundreds more are hurt in incidents involving moving vehicles and cattle on farms. Incidents involving moving vehicles remains the leading cause of death over the last five-year period.

“Take the right actions to prevent another farming tragedy”

Adrian Hodkinson, Agriculture Lead at HSE, said: “Working with cattle and using vehicles are two very common activities in farming, but they bring with them a high risk of being very badly hurt.

Adrian Hodkinson, Agriculture Lead at HSE. Credit: HSE

“This campaign is focused on work with livestock and aims to stress how important it is to take sensible measures to keep animals and people apart. At the same time we’ll be continuing to highlight the key things for safe use of farm vehicles in and around the yard and sheds, but also out in the fields when checking, feeding, moving and caring for your herd.”

“For example, ATVs (or farm quads) are commonly used on livestock farms. HSE has looked at the reported incidents and many show the user was doing something in relation to farming the animals at the time of the overturn or crash. That’s why we are looking at raising awareness of both cattle safety but also farm vehicle safety.

“Agriculture consistently has a high rate of fatal and serious injuries of all main industry sectors in Great Britain. Over the past five years, the average fatal incident rate is twenty-one times higher in agriculture than the average across all other industries. That is a shocking statistic and sadly the impact on every affected farm is huge. Sometimes I see the incident leads to farming work stopping all together, as the key person has life changing injuries and can no longer work”

Marian Clode died from her injuries after being butted by cows. Credit: HSE

“It’s time for us to make a change together to make our farms safer, and that’s why we’re asking farmers in England, Scotland and Wales to consider these areas of their daily farming activities and take the right actions to prevent another farming tragedy.”

Last month, a farming business was fined over £70,000 after a member of the public died from being butted several times by a cow in front of two onlooking grandchildren. The farm workers involved in moving the cows were not aware of the oncoming family as they were at the rear of the herd.

Hodkinson added: “We understand the significant pressures faced by British farmers and want to support the farming community to show that safety on the farm doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive. There are simple steps you can take today to help keep you and everyone on your farm safe.

“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 our advice to help plan the job and complete it safely.”

Further reading: Farm fined after man electrocuted


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