The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned of the dangers that come with working in the agricultural industry as figures reveal that a high number of workplace deaths occur on farms.

Agriculture accounts for one in five British workplace deaths.

HSE highlighted Wales and Northern Ireland as particular problem areas, with the farming sector accounting for 11 out of the 19 work-related fatalities in 2012/13 in Northern Ireland. This is up from the nine of 18 workplace fatalities attributable to farm accidents the previous year.

Work-related farming deaths in Wales

Separate HSE figures revealed that workplace deaths on farms are on an upward trend in Wales. Three farm workers in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Powys died in 2010-11, up from two the previous year and one the year before that.

According to figures from 2011, even though farmers form less than 2% of the working population – 3% in Wales – agriculture accounts for one in five British workplace deaths.

Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) president Emyr Jones said: “Many farmers work alone, often in isolated areas, many jobs are routine in nature and when someone is tired after a hard day’s work attention to detail may slip and accidents can happen.”

Farming is one of the UK’s most dangerous industries

Agriculture has been highlighted as one of the most hazardous work industries in the UK, with 33 work-related high risk farming injuries recorded in 2011. This is compared with 49 in construction, 31 in manufacturing and five in recycling.

HSE chair Judith Hackitt added: “People in farming don’t have minor injuries; when they get injured it’s bad.”

Warnings over high workplace accident rates in Wales

Whether they work in the agriculture industry or not, Welsh employees are considerably more likely to suffer a workplace injury than people working in the rest of the UK.

HSE statistics revealed that the rate of reportable work injuries was 519 per 10,000 in 2011-12 compared to the national average of 446.

Commenting on the figures concerning work-related farming deaths, Steven Beard, Senior Litigation Manager at Lampkin & Co Solicitors, said:

“As farmers make up more of the working population in Wales than anywhere else in the UK, health and safety in the agricultural sector is absolutely crucial.

“The statistics for Wales and the rest of the UK make for very worrying reading and stress the need for employers to go above and beyond to protect their staff.

“Employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe working environment, suitable training and appropriate safety equipment and where this duty of care has been breached you may be entitled to compensation.”

Read more about how Lampkin & Co Solicitors can pursue a workplace accident claim on your behalf.