News that fatal injuries in agriculture fell to 29 in 2012-13 is no cause for celebration after the latest HSE figures reveal that six people were killed in the industry in April and May 2013. If the rate of killing continues this will push agricultural deaths in 2013-14 back up to 36, the precise average for the industry from 2007-08 to 2011-12.
Amongst those who died in May was 63-year-old Hungarian national Jozsef Pinter, who fell though a roof whilst working at a farm in Warlaby, near Northampton in North Yorkshire. Ronald Rudd, aged 53, was killed when he was struck by a moving vehicle when working on a farm outside Berwick-upon-Tweed. The pair’s deaths and those that – sadly – will inevitably follow will undoubtedly mean that the most dangerous working sector will remain the agricultural one with around 20% of all deaths occurring amongst just 1.4% of the UK’s workforce.
Not that this government appears too bothered. It has downgraded agriculture as a sector not worthy of proactive inspections by the HSE and also allowed the HSE Board to withdraw the HSE approved code of practice which had slashed by two-thirds the numbers of children killed on farms from the time it was introduced in 1998.
All of which reinforces the need for Unite roving safety representatives that would have rights to visit agricultural workplaces to represent the health and safety interests of workers. Although these reps would inevitably reduce deaths and injuries the government has shown little enthusiasm for their introduction.
It means the current carnage will continue.