The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched the next phase in its 'Make the Promise' campaign with the stark message that people are still dying in needless farm accidents.
Across Great Britain, 38 workers lost their lives in farming-related incidents between January and November 2009 (see notes to editors) and recently finalised figures for 2008/09 show that 589 people were seriously injured in farming accidents,
Working in agriculture remains one of the most dangerous ways to make a living. It accounts for around one in five work-related deaths every year, although only 1.5 per cent of the working population are employed in the sector.
In 2008/09 the highest percentage of fatal injuries to agricultural workers resulted from contact with moving machinery (27%). The most common kind of reported non-fatal injury to employees occurred through handling, lifting or carrying objects (26%).
Nearly 15,000 farmers have already signed up to the campaign. More are now being encouraged to do the same.
Judith Donovan, HSE board member and its agriculture champion, said:
'For those 15,000 farmers we know have made the promise to come home safe, and the many more who may have made the pledge privately, the challenge for them now is to keep it, particularly when they're battling the weather or working to tight timescales. Losing concentration or taking seemingly harmless shortcuts is when horrific accidents can happen.'
'To those farmers yet to make the promise, we encourage them to do it not only for themselves, but for their family and their livelihoods.
'Over the last 10 years, 455 lives have been lost on British farms - that's hundreds of families and farms devastated. Let's make 2010 the year that everyone comes home safe.'
James Chapman, vice-chairman, National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs commented:
'The National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs has proudly made the promise, to come home safe. Encouraging farmers to work safely has always been one of our key priorities and, during 2010, we will be working closely with the HSE to promote the campaign in our groups across the country.
'I know only too well what can happen when safety isn't put first. A few years ago, I lost my left arm when it was caught in an unguarded PTO shaft. It only happened because I, like many farmers, was working under pressure trying to get a job done as quickly as possible.
'Today I regularly speak to young farmers, using my experience positively as a warning of how important it is that they take the time to consider their safety and what can happen if they don't.'
Graeme Walker, HSE's chief inspector for agriculture concluded:
'We see first-hand the terrible grief that families face when someone is killed, and it is heartbreaking - particularly when farmers keep dying for the same reasons.
'We offer farmers training, support and guidance on how to keep themselves and their workers safe all of which can help avoid the horrific consequences of accidents, many of which are preventable.'
As part of the campaign, farmers can request 'Promise Knots' to place around their homes and farms as a simple, but ever-present reminder of the commitment they have made to come home safe.