Health and Safety Executive (UK)

HSE supports a safer future for farming


Source: Health and Safety Executive (UK)

Recent provisional statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveal that 39 workers were killed in the agriculture sector in 2007/08. With an average of one death a week over the last ten years, the agriculture industry has one of the worst incident records of the major employment sectors. The industry’s lack oftraining, skills and competencies has been recognised by HSE as a key area for improvement.

At the Royal Show today HSE’s Non-executive board member Judith Donovan reiterated the need to focus on skills and competencies based training for the agriculture sector while presenting certificates to students who have successfully completed their vocational qualifications.

Judith Donovan said, “I congratulate these students who have demonstrated a will to learn and shown that they take pride in doing their work the right way. Their qualifications and experience will help them to make their farms safer and bring about a sustainable change to the industry’s record.

“Incidents on farms can have devastating effects; casualties are not just workers but their children, family members as well as members of the public. The financial costs are also considerable, work can be disrupted and employees absent, which seriously reduces productivity of the farm. While the industry accounts for only 1.7% of the workforce in Great Britain, it accounts for a massive 16% of the fatal injuries to workers, so it is vital that there is a focus on training and competencies to better the safety record on farms.”

Over recent years changes in the agricultural industry have seen increases in the number of smallholdings, self-employed units, contracting-out, part-time and niche market farmers, alongside technological changes in farming equipment and machinery. These changes have placed an emphasis on the need for skills training.

Recognising the need for a greater skilled workforce the HSE has initiated the development of a new suite of vocational certificates in health and safety for farmers and growers. The vocational qualifications have received widespread support and acclaim from key industry stakeholders. They form part of a package of measures aiming to bring about a sustainable change to the industry’s incident record by increasing the level of knowledge, skills and competencies of those people working within the industry, or who are about to join it.

The qualifications have been developed in association with a number of organisations including Lantra Sector Skills Council, the National Farmers’ Union, the Transport and General Workers’ Union (now part of Unite, the Union), together with awarding bodies for the land-based sector, City and Guilds NPTC and Lantra Awards.

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