Can I claim compensation for a Farming Accident?
Posted on 27th September 2019
MG Legal are Solicitors in Preston and Lancaster, both of which are indisputable agricultural areas.
The vital message from HSE following their publication of its latest statistics on fatal injuries in agriculture, forestry and fishing in Great Britain, have said that more work needs to be done on risk management and health and safety by farmers and agricultural businesses. The figures show the rate of fatal farming injuries is eighteen times as high as the average rate across all industries (around five times the fatality rate in construction). Six more than last year and 6 more than the 5-year average (33). The sector employs 1 per cent of the British workforce.
In the year 2018 to 2019, the statistics show:
• Agriculture has the worst rate of worker fatal injury per 100,000 out of the main industrial sectors;
• 39 people were killed as a result of farming and other agriculture-related activities. Thirteen were employees; 19 were self-employed and the rest were members of the public;
• Nearly half of the agricultural workers killed were over 60 and two were young children;
• 41 per cent were within the 35-59 age bracket.
So, what is causing these injuries and deaths? Most of these farming deaths were the consequence of transport accidents – involving either overturning vehicles or being struck by a moving vehicle; though other causes included falls from height and animal attacks. Perhaps surprisingly just three fatalities were caused by contact with machinery.
The HSE has expressed its concern about the number of fatal injuries in the agriculture sector each year.
While the fatality rate in agriculture is so high compared to other industries, the number of fatal injuries to workers in this sector has in fact fallen by around a half since the early 1980s. This undoubtedly reflects both the increasingly robust laws and regulations to protect injuries from workplace injuries and the increasing awareness of farms and other agricultural businesses on their health and safety responsibilities and their compliance efforts.
Late last year, for example, a farmer was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence after 20-year-old Lauren Scott’s hair became caught up in a milling machine. The machine had an exposed rotating shaft because of a broken plastic over.
Farming is full of dangers and it is no surprise that injuries are common place when the individuals work around chemicals, animals, silos, dust and noise in addition to the vehicles and machinery. As the HSE points out, it is also physical demanding. In statistics on injuries in Britain’s Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector released last October for 2018, the HSE revealed that in the year to 2018:
17,000 workers suffering from work-related ill health (new or long- standing) of which 52% were musculoskeletal disorders. This represents around 4.7% of workers, a rate which is statistically significantly higher than the rate for workers across all industries. These health issues range from asthma and ‘farmers’ lung’, skin diseases and occupational cancer.
13,000 non-fatal injuries to workers each year from 2013. Again – higher: ; Around 3.7% of workers in this sector suffered from an injury. This is about double the All industries rate, and is statistically significantly higher. Indeed, the HSE estimates there could be as many as 10 000 unreported injuries in this industry each year.
Farming and agricultural work is dangerous. Farmers and their workers go to work and face a significantly higher risk of injury, illness and death. In a personal injury claim against a business in this sector, the evidence suggests that agricultural business owners could have quite a challenge in defending a personal injury claim.
Not all accidents can be prevented: a worker’s inattention to their work or ignoring clear training on the use of machinery may lead to an injury. Conversely, if there is a clear risk that a worker will be injured if they are inattentive or ignore clear guidelines given to them, the business could still be found partially or wholly liable for any injuries.
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