In the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) annual statistics, published at the back end of 2018, some sectors stood out for their higher than average incidents of workplace injury and illness. This is not surprising, of course, as some professions carry far greater risk than others.
Top of the list for both work-related ill health and workplace injury were the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries.
The runners-up for ill health were human health and social work activities and public administration/defence. And for injury they were construction and accommodation/food service activities.
Out of interest, the average number of work-related illnesses reported across all industries was 3,180 (per 100,000). While for injuries it was 1,780 (per 100,000). All the aforementioned industries were way above these averages.
Farming under HSE’s spotlight in 2019
Now we are in 2019 and the HSE is taking action to improve the safety records on farms. They have announced a programme of inspections to review health and safety standards. The message is that death, injuries and ill-health should not be considered an inevitable part of farming, and that attitudes must change.
Particular areas of risk that HSE inspectors will be looking to see controlled are those associated with machinery, livestock, children and falls from height.
Tragedies behind the numbers
In 2018, there were 33 farming deaths. In one case reported in the national media last November, a farmer was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence of a 20-year-old woman. She had been volunteering on his farm in March of the previous year. She died after her hair got caught in a milling machine on which the plastic cover to a rotating shaft had become broken and dented.
After the trial, the investigating officer criticised the farmer’s attitude towards health and safety. He observed that a £75 cover for the shaft would have prevented the fatal accident. The judge told him a prison sentence was inevitable.
Get more H&S support
If you are in one of these high-risk industries, or just need help managing your own unique risks, don’t wait for the HSE to turn their attention to you, or for tragedy to strike. The cost in lives ended or impaired is the worst consequence, but there are also operational, legal and reputational risks to consider when you get health and safety wrong.
Get in touch with The H&S Dept today and we can help you understand the risks that face your business and put measures in place to control them. This will help you get on with your work with peace of mind that you’ve fulfilled your duty of care to keep you, your staff and the public safe.