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Hard times for Farming

Farming and agriculture has the highest rate of fatal accidents of any of the main industrial sectors including the construction industry with an average of 42 fatalities each year.  The industry also has the highest rate of self-reported illness when compared to an average of all other industries. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) believe that this is due to a number of factors including, the more hazardous environment of working with livestock and large machinery, a general lack of consideration to health and safety and willingness to take risks and economic or financial constraints.

The bad weather last year and so far this year has had a significant impact on farming across the UK, with severe effects on the harvest season and a lack of fodder for livestock producers. It has recently been reported that farm incomes in the South West dropped by 14% last year.

With ongoing unpredictable weather and the current economic state it is unquestionable that the next year or two are likely to be hard for most in the agriculture and farming industry. Whilst the industry’s hardy attitude is to be applauded, it is important that when faced with these tough times they don’t take unnecessary risks which could result in a serious injury or worse. It is thought that many in this industry consider health and safety and the so called “red tape” associated with it to be a burden and so safety measures are not implemented. In particular, for employees in agriculture it is important that they do not undertake tasks which are completely unreasonable and inherently dangerous – they may think it necessary to keep their job but when the risks are so high and the possible injuries so severe – if they have an accident it is unlikely they will be working again for a considerable time. It is important that risks are assessed and some thought is given to the outcome for their family if they do suffer a serious injury or worse.

The number of fatalities and serious injuries suffered in agriculture could easily be reduced if the industry did put in place a few simple checks and make use of the guidance available to them. The HSE website has a number of free leaflets and guides and for a small cost there is a specific ‘Farmwise’ publication which is an essential guide to health and safety in agriculture. A balance can be struck between taking sensible proactive steps to keep everyone safe without going so far that it becomes a constant hurdle to overcome.

In these difficult times, it is inspiring to see that the industry is receiving some support from the farming charity, The Addington Fund. The purpose of The Addington Fund is to provide homes for farming families living in England and Wales who have to leave the industry and by doing so will lose their home. They also offer emergency grants in times of hardship. They recently stepped in to assist with haulage charges to a farmer who was about to run out of fodder in Northumberland and locally are behind the Ruthoves Barns project in Cornwall. This a project which saw The Addington Fund regenerate unused buildings on a once Council owned farm into affordable units providing accommodation and a workplace for local people from an agricultural background.

Contact Harris Fowler now if you or a family member has been injured from a farming accident. Free and friendly legal advice is available on 0800 213 214.

Harris Fowler is a trading name of Harris Fowler Limited and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority no. 558271.