20th Jan


TFA Blog #28 – Don’t Wait for a Prosecution, Now is the Time to Improve Heath and Safety on Farm

Sadly, agriculture, forestry and fishing remain the UK riskiest industry’s with over 20 fatal injuries sustained in 2020 and over 12,000 reported non – fatal injuries.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and the Farm Safety Partnership (which the TFA is a member of) have committed in improving the industry’s health and safety record. The TFA urges members to think carefully about how work is conducted on a day-to-day basis on their farms.  It encourages everyone to take time out to consider and complete farm risk assessments to commit to reducing risk and causing severe or fatal injury.

This follows the news that the HSE has successfully prosecuted two separate farming businesses for breaches of Health & Safety regulations. These breaches had resulted in non-fatal injury caused to a member of the public and fatality of a farm worker.

The first case was where a woman was electrocuted while using a cooker which was poorly insulated and connected at a caravan on a farm. During the investigation, it emerged that the farmer had been complicit with the work his son had carried out on his property and, as an employer, had a duty to maintain the electrical system relating to the caravan to ensure that it was not dangerous.  The farmer’s son was sentenced for gross negligence manslaughter receiving six year and six months in prison and the farmer was sentenced for charges under Section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. He received a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

The HSE key safety message for this case is to ensure only people who are working with your electrics are competent to do the job. Normally this means a professional electrician. See HSE’s free leaflet “Electrical safety and you: A brief guide”.

The second case was where a JCB driver made a ‘catastrophic error’ when he failed to secure a straw bale that tumbled from a trailer and crushed a cyclist on a rural lane. The cyclist was taken to hospital and suffered reduced levels of alertness and was placed in an induced coma for 13 days. His injuries included bleeding on the brain, damaged vertebrae and a fractured shoulder bone. The farm worker appeared in court and admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving. He had loaded six round bales of straw side by side on the trailer, with two more on top. Another bale was carried by the spike of the JCB telehandler which towed the trailer. The bales of straw were not secured to the trailer by any means, other than their own weight. The farm worker was jailed for 12 months but the sentence was suspended for 18 months.


The HSE key safety message was to ensure that bales are stacked safely on trailers. Don’t stack bales beyond the edge of the trailer. Secure loads with straps or ropes and double-strap bales at the rear, as these tend to sway the most. See HSE’s free leaflet, “Safe working with bales in agriculture.

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