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Urgent need for safety checks says risk expert, after Scotland tops farming fatalities list

Alex Cormack

A RISK management expert is urging Scotland’s farmers to improve their health and safety standards after official figures revealed the country has the highest number of agricultural work-related fatal injuries in Great Britain. 

Latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that five people were killed in the country’s agricultural sector in 2022/23 – three more than last year.

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Alex Cormack, of Lycetts Risk Management Services, said: “It’s tragic that the number of deaths has increased.

“Some fatalities can be attributed to freak accidents, but others could be avoided by adopting a more rigorous approach to safety.”

Across Britain, there were 21 fatalities in agriculture – two fewer than last year.

Cormack said: “The drop in the number of fatalities is encouraging, but I would urge those who work in the industry to remain vigilant, and to avoid becoming complacent.

“Agriculture is a dangerous industry to work in, coming second only to construction in the number of annual fatalities.”

A third of all fatal injuries in agriculture were caused by people coming into contact with cattle. This was followed by being struck by an object/falling from height, contact with machinery/contact with a stationary or fixed object, and contact with a moving vehicle/being trapped by something collapsing.

The Scottish fatalities included a 71-year-old employee who died when he came into contact with cattle at a farm in Dalbeattie, Dumfries and Galloway.

At a farm in Kinross, Fife, a 58-year-old farmer died when he was struck by a moving vehicle. 

A 65-year-old farmer was killed when he came into contact with machinery at a farm in Auchterarder, Perth and Kinross.

Cormack said: “Over the last five years, 64 per cent of all fatalities in the sector involved the self-employed. This suggests that although employers may be conscientious about health and safety measures and training for their staff, they are not giving their own personal safety enough attention.

“The ‘cost-of-business’ crisis is putting a lot of pressure on the agricultural industry, and there could be a danger that in order to make savings, or to save time, some owners may be tempted to take risks. This could leave families devastated, and businesses ruined.”

“To help prevent such tragedies occurring, risk assessments should be thorough, all appropriate training should be undertaken, and safety policies should be implemented.”

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