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Agriculture has the worst rate of worker fatal injury of all the main industrial sectors – it is 18 times as high as the average rate across all industries according to the latest statistics from The Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

HOPS supported Farm Safety Week in July 2019 – an initiative by The Farm Safety Foundation to raise awareness of the dangers of working on farms and to encourage everyone to work more safely.

Many of HOPS’ growers got involved with Farm Safety Week too to help share best practice, including Hugh Lowe Farms in Maidstone. Their idea to deliver weekly Tool Box Talks focused on areas of health and safety is encouraging everyone in the team to work safely.

Ligita from Hugh Lowe Farm said: “These are short, informational talks delivered by Managers and Team Leaders to their team(s) to communicate a single aspect of health and safety that is particularly relevant at the time. For example, when temperatures rise we will do regular Tool Box Talks on working in hot weather, the risks of dehydration and the importance of wearing appropriate clothing.”

Managers are not restricted to just these weekly topics though and can deliver a Tool Box Talk whenever they deem necessary.

At Boxford (Suffolk) Holdings Ltd they are using health and safety signage around the farms and packhouses to help keep their teams safe too.

Thomas Spraggons from Boxford said they inform their teams what the colour of the signs mean: “Watch for signs, and understand what they mean; Red for Prohibitory, Yellow/Amber for Warning, Blue for Mandatory, Green for information. Be aware, and follow their instruction.”

The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs developed a farm safety training module with The Farm Safety Foundation, which encourages the next generation of farmers to be more aware of the dangers of working on a farm. Since its launch in 2017, more than 10% of the membership has received the training and, during Farm Safety Week, the Federation pushed for its clubs to pledge to deliver it in the new membership year.

Farm Safety Week 2019 was hailed as a success but the latest statistics show there’s still work for everyone to do in the industry to make sure we are working more safely.

Stephanie Berkeley from The Farm Safety Foundation said: “Farming, as an industry, is absolutely vital to the UK economy – it is the bedrock of our food and drink industry. On a farm, as with any business, the number one resource is the people so why is it that farmers give more attention to their livestock, crops and machinery than to themselves and their own wellbeing?

“As a Foundation, we will continue to train the next generation. We will continue to conduct research into farm safety behaviours and attitudes and we will continue to create powerful and emotive campaigns and offer advice and guidance but the rest is in your hands… It’s your health, your safety, your choice!”

For more advice and support on the health and safety education you should be providing for seasonal workers, contact the HOPS’ team.