Workplace accidents on farms
Farming is recognised as one of the most dangerous industries to work in, as according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) agriculture accounts for one in five workplace fatalities. Some of the most common types of accidents are:
- Slips, trips and falls,
- Injuries caused by farm animals and livestock.
- Accidents involving heavy equipment and machinery.
- Manual handling accidents.
- Falling from a height.
- Being struck by a falling object or a moving vehicle.
- Inhalation of slurry gases.
It is important that farm owners and farm workers understand the implications when an injury does occur.
Liability for accidents and injuries
Farming is an important industry in the UK and as employers, farmers have a duty of care to try and protect any employees while they are working. As in any workplace, employers must take care to ensure work is carried out in a safe manner and that equipment is properly maintained and in good working order. If an employer fails to do this, then the consequences could be tragic.
Most injuries can be avoided if an employer carries out regular risk assessments to identify any risks arising from work related tasks, and introduces methods to remove or reduce that risk. Risk assessments should be prepared that relate to the overall operating of the farm and to specific tasks and work processes that are carried out.
Employers should discourage short cuts and train their employees in the best way of carrying out any particular task. This also includes making sure that the drivers of farm vehicles such as tractors are not only trained, but also qualified in driving the vehicle. Employees should also be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) relevant to the tasks they are to be involved in.
It is often the case that farm equipment and machinery has been used for many years without being properly maintained. Safety features may have been removed, corners are sometimes cut and dangerous practices used. Employers should make sure that all farm machinery, equipment and vehicles are maintained properly, to ensure that the chance of accidents at work caused by equipment is as low as possible.
Farm animals and livestock should be properly cared for being provided with a suitable environment to live in, which in turn makes them safer to handle.
In addition, any harmful chemicals should be stored correctly and safely including labelling them appropriately. The workplace should be kept clean, tidy and well-organised, to avoid tripping and slipping accidents. Emergency drills should be conducted to help prepare for potential accidents like workplace fires or chemical spills.
Overall, promoting a strong safety culture in the workplace with positive reinforcement and reward for employees committing themselves to safety practices is one of the best things an employer can do, to avoid accidents and injuries from occurring.
What to do if you are injured
As a farm worker, you are entitled to work in an environment where the risk to your health and safety is minimised which reduces the risk of you sustaining an injury at work. Under health and safety law, the primary responsibility for this is with your employer.
As an employee, you also have a duty to help prevent accidents at work. You can do this by following health and safety procedure, so you don’t put your colleague’s health and safety at risk. You can also report unsafe working practices, systems, machinery or equipment and those not following health and safety procedures properly to your supervisor. Health and safety legislation requires employers and employees to cooperate, to reduce the risk of accident’s happening.
If you have specific queries about health and safety in your workplace, and you worry that you or someone you work with is at risk from suffering an accident at work, speak to your supervisor, health and safety or trade union representative.
Unfortunately, accidents at work do occur. If you have had an accident at work, then you may be able to bring a personal injury claim against your employer.
If you are successful in making a personal injury claim against your employer, you will receive compensation relating to any past or future financial losses and expenses incurred or likely to be incurred. You will also receive an award for pain, suffering and loss of amenity to compensate you for the physical and/or psychiatric injuries you have sustained.
What to do next
Whilst you may be hesitant or anxious to make a claim, be rest assured that you can speak to a specialist personal injury solicitor in confidence who deals with accident at work claims, to see whether you have a personal injury claim. If you do have a claim and would like to pursue this, then they will be able to put your mind at rest in relation to the legal process and what will be expected of you as a Claimant. A successful legal claim could help you get your life back on track, and may help prevent future accidents from occurring.