A recent report has concluded that farm workers are eight times more likely to suffer work related accidents than in any other industry. This is a strong indicator that farms are very dangerous working environments and need to improve on the health and safety measures currently in place.
The Health and Safety Executive have published some recent cases highlighting the lack of focus on health and safety on farms. One example case tells of how a director of a farm was fined because he failed to protect himself and others whilst working at height. The incident resulted in the director and a colleague being electrocuted from overhead cables.
The Health and Safety Executive says that people have a right to return home from work safe and sound. You can read more on their website here.
Statistics reported by the Health and Safety Executive in 2014 show that 13 fatal accidents to farmers were reported in 2013 alone compared to an average of 14 fatal accidents reported over a period of 5 years from 2008 to 2012. This clearly shows health and safety regulations are not being adhered to on farms as they should be.
As a Personal Injury Solicitor specialising in all types of work accident claims, I can speak from experience over the last 15 years that these accident statistics are sadly all too true. I have recovered many thousands of pounds in compensation for clients who are workers in the farming industry.
Successful claims I have made on behalf of farm workers include compensation for broken legs and head injuries. These injuries are mainly due to falls from scaffolding and unsecured ladders on barns or outbuildings.
I have also successfully represented people who have been injured using farm machinery. This is usually from when the equipment had not been properly serviced or the worker (or their colleagues) had not been properly trained to use the equipment, sadly with devastating consequences.
My experience extends to representing agricultural workers who have been injured in the harvesting process from heavy lifting or being cut or hit by unsafe equipment. I have even been instructed in respect of finger amputations from the use of a quad bike on a farm.
It is therefore unsurprising that the farming environment continues to be such a dangerous place in which to work.
There is some sympathy for the farm owner/employer as the big supermarkets continue to drive down prices for their produce. There is a constant pressure to eke out as much profit as possible in these difficult times and with it goes a temptation to cut corners rather than work as safely as possible.
Traditionally farms have been left to their own devices to run themselves. Farmsteads often pass through generations where the incumbent farm owner will have had scant experience of any formal business education or proper health and safety training.
However the statistics and increasing number of Health and Safety Executive fines show that a greater proportion of workplace accidents are taking place on farms.
A process of re-education needs to be implemented to make safety a priority. Work should be properly risk assessed and the workers themselves should receive comprehensive health and safety training so that they can best protect themselves and their co-workers.
Damian Bradley is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
If you or someone you know have been injured in an accident working on a farm and would like to discuss claiming compensation, call Slater and Gordon Lawyers for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.
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