LEADING rural insurer NFU Mutual has la-unched a checklist to
help farmers keep them-selves, their families and
workers safe through what could be one of the most challenging harvests since the Second World War.
“Harvest time can be one of the most dangerous periods of the farming year,” said Ian Jewitt, Managing Director of NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Ltd, which runs pre-harvest safety courses.
“Safety is critical during harvest. Figures published by
the GB Health and Safety Executive show 39 people were killed as a result of farming and other agriculture-related activities last year. Overturning vehicles – or being struck by moving vehicles – caused most deaths.
“It’s a sobering fact that agriculture has the worst rate of worker fatal injury of the main industry sectors – it is eighteen times as high as the average rate across all industries.
“This year, the additional challenges of working with
Covid-19 restrictions, inexper-ienced staff perhaps working on farms for the first time and recent very dry conditions have combined to present an even bigger challenge than normal for the nation’s farmers.
“A major concern this year is that the Covid-19 pandemic means that childcare and school arrangements for many farming families have been disrupted and younger and school age children could be on farms during the very busy harvest period.
“Tragically, two children were
among last year’s farming death toll.
“Fire is another major threat during harvest – particularly during drought conditions. NFU Mutual claims figures show that the cost of farm fires in the UK hit a four-year peak at £46.4m in 2018 – largely due to the year’s hot dry summer.”
The increased scale of farm fires has prompted a call to farmers to check their fire prevention methods and evac-uation procedures.
“To protect themselves and their workforces, we have compiled a safety checklist to help farmers plan a safe and smooth harvest.
“We also offer a pre-harvest training package for farmers to deliver to their employees, with discounts available to qualifying farming union mem-bers. To find out more, call 0800 132029.”