Research recently released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has pinpointed modern farming as the most dangerous profession in the UK.
Published in the wake of a series of high profile accidents and prosecutions, the research revealed that from 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010 the rate of agricultural workers killed at work returned to average levels of previous years - a rise of more than 50% from 2008/9.
Whilst the number of deaths at work within other professions steadily declines, the risk within the farming sector has held steady - a trend which is explained by the increasing economic pressures on British farmers resulting in the need to work longer hours, potentially cut costs and work alone.
The 'Make the Promise' campaign, launched in 2009 by the HSE, aims to highlight the unnecessary deaths and injuries that happen on farms every day and the need for increasing support for British farmers who, if they are male, are two and half times more likely to die going about their business than they are in a car accident.
Two key cases which have served to highlight the issue in recent months include: a Bradford farming company that was prosecuted after one of its employees was seriously injured when he slipped into a manure machine in January 2009 - he lost his big toe and part of the heel of his left foot, broke all his toes and severely damaged the ankle of his right foot; and a farmer in Aberdeenshire who has been served with a jail sentence of two years after a trailer he was towing broke free from his tractor and caused the death of a passing motorist. A recent survey into quad bikes in Scotland also indicated that almost two thirds (62%) of farms visited were not using All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), such as quad bikes, safely.
The HSE produce the Farmwise booklet that provides a detailed guide to health and safety in agriculture, with guidance on the legal frameworks that surround employer liability and the real need for safety in the work place and effective, comprehensive farm insurance. The guide also serves to heighten farmers awareness to the risk that common oversights and shortcuts can pose, with evidence detailing that transport related accidents account for almost a quarter of all deaths in the industry.