Farmers Warned About Harvest Danger

Farming Accidents

22.09.2009

Farmers and contractors are being urged to take extra care and put safety first as they gear up for the busy potato harvesting season.

The timely warning from the Health and Safety Executive comes after a 34-year-old man was killed in Fife earlier this month while apparently working on a potato harvester that was powered up.

The HSE is also investigating an incident in which a Lincolnshire worker suffered severe cuts trying to clear a chopping mechanism and another where a Cambridgeshire farmer had his arm crushed when it was dragged into some cleaning rollers.

In the past five years, 82 workers suffered fatal injuries between July and October, with deaths during these four harvest months accounting for almost half of all deaths in agriculture since 2004/05.

The HSE's Come home safe campaign aims to help reduce death and injury in the sector by raising awareness of the risks.

HSE's Tony Mitchell said: "It is essential that proper systems are in place for cleaning machinery, fixing it or removing blockages. It must be switched off before any work is attempted on it.

"We understand that farmers are under immense time pressures, with the weather often another obstacle to contend with, but this should not mean they take short cuts with safety, risking a lifetime of disability or death."

David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “Second only to the construction industry, the agricultural industry is the sector where an employee is most likely to lose his life in a work accident.

“As such, it is imperative that employers take greater care to provide workers with a safe place of work to prevent injury following an accident at work.

“Sadly, I have represented several farm workers who have been injured or killed in farming accidents.”