Taking risks with health and safety regulations cost British farming businesses almost £350,000 in fines in the year to September 2020.
The latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show a significant drop in fatalities in the agriculture industry in the past year, but according to Simon Houghton of Lycetts Risk Management Services, farmers are still taking risks which cost lives and money.
He said: “There have been great strides with regards to health and safety over recent decades, with the number of fatal injuries to workers in agriculture falling by around half since the early 1980s – but we still have a way to go.
“The efforts of farmers to raise the bar in terms of health and safety should certainly be applauded, but there is always a danger that when progress is made, vigilance is relaxed – now is not the time to rest on one’s laurels.
“Agriculture’s high fatality rate still significantly outstrips that of other industries, so managing risk better should be a top priority for all farming businesses – no matter the scale or size.
“Health and safety fines remain high and we have seen farmers having to fork out hundreds of thousands of pounds for breaches in the past year.
“We know that time and resources can be scarce for farmers but cutting corners is simply not worth the potential economic hit.”
The latest figures from the HSE show that 21 people were killed in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector across Britain in 2019/20, which is the lowest number of deaths recorded in the last five years.
Mr Houghton said risk-taking is an underlying problem in the agricultural industry, with the fatal injury rate for over-65s nearly six times that of young workers.
He added: “Many farmers are working well past their retirement age, with little to no help, so physically, and cognitively, they are put under a lot of strain.
“These factors mean they may not appropriately assess or mitigate risks.”
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