In UK agriculture, one worker dies every week on average according to the HSE. Farm work can present a myriad of risks; minor, serious and fatal in a normal day. New legislation aims to curve that statistic as new tough penalties for breaches could encourage a safer environment.
A Dangerous Profession
Last month we looked at which industry in the UK was the most dangerous from a personal injury perspective. We determined that due to the heavy machinery and tools used, matched with the working environment, that farming is indeed Britain’s most dangerous workplace.
Agricultural work on average sees more serious injuries each year than construction and manufacturing. This is a result of tasks involving a variety of machinery with the ability to cut, shred and maim individuals coming into contact with them. It is also unfortunately an “accepted” part of the farming industry that injury and death do occur at regular intervals during any calendar year.
February 2017 will see the introduction of new penalties that heavily affect farming, particularly larger farms with numerous employees. From February, corporate manslaughter and breaching other health and safety offences will result in heavy fines or imprisonment.
According to the official publication released by the HSE, offences can see fines scaling from £50 all the way up to £10 million being handed out, depending on how many people were hurt, what the incident involved and how much damage was done. Sincere Law Partner Lucie Illingworth spoke on the tougher stance on agricultural health and safety:
“It isn’t permissible for agricultural bosses to “accept” that serious injury and death is just a part of working farms. Those that add to the statistics are humans with families. They deserve protection. The legislation should help stimulate greater protection and eliminate that notion. Employee safety is above all else in any industry”
Challenge the Norms
Sincere Law’s solicitors have dealt previously with both the serious injury of agricultural workers and the claiming of compensation following fatalities on behalf of their families. Both situations require immense work and empathy for those involved. It can be a distressing time for all involved, not just the person involved in the incident.
As a law firm that supports the victims of serious injury with their recovery, we welcome any legislative change as an effort to clamp down on negligent procedures employers may have risked assigning employees to in the past. From witnessing the effects of serious injury on agricultural workers first hand, we would like to see the frequency of these impactful injuries fall dramatically.