Businesses in the agricultural sector have been urged to step up their efforts to minimise the chances of employees being injured in accidents at work.
According to H&H Insurance Brokers, there has been a significant increase in both the number and the value of agricultural injury claims in the last few years.
Spokesman John Pieri said more than 650 agricultural injury claim cases are understood to have led to compensation settlements of more than £350,000; the Journal reports.
He has therefore called on employers to take steps to improve safety standards in order to avoid hefty fines and injury compensation payments. For instance, he said agricultural machinery needs to be kept in a good state of repair.
"Keeping machinery well maintained not only reduces the risk of accident but also prolongs its working life," Mr Pieri commented. "Plus better management of health and safety means you are less likely to be hit by enforcement action and fines, which can damage the reputation of your business."
Mr Pieri also noted that if an agricultural business improves its farming practices, it will make its operations more sustainable and improve the productivity and morale of employees. Furthermore, he said adhering to minimum health and safety standards could lead to employers being offered lower insurance premiums, as cover providers will consider a company a better risk if it has a good safety track record.
Mr Pieri added that work accident injuries can cause permanent injuries and ruin lives and businesses, but stressed that "preventative solutions are often simple and cheap to put in place".
According to statistics from the Health and Safety Executive, approximately 1 in 100 workers in the UK is employed in the agricultural sector.
However, figures also show that about one-fifth of fatal workplace accidents occur in the agricultural industry. Being hit by moving farm vehicles or objects was said to be a common cause of death in the agricultural sector, along with falls from height, drowning and asphyxiation, contact with machinery and being injured by an animal.