Safety: Sharp rise in farm accidents

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The Independent Online
Safety inspectors called for a change in culture on Britain's farms after a survey revealed that workers risk their lives by using defective machinery.

The Health and Safety Executive decided to launch a series of inspections after it emerged that accidents had claimed 63 lives on British farms in 1996, an increase of 40 per cent on the previous year.

Despite widespread publicity about the initiative, announced at the Royal Agricultural Show last summer, many farmers failed to revise their safety procedures, apparently gambling on the possibility that they would not receive a visit.

David Mattey, the HSE's chief agricultural Inspector, said yesterday that, in some regions of the country, enforcement action was taken by his officers on 58 per cent of the farms randomly visited.

Of the 4,621 inspections between July and October last year, 645 resulted in prohibition notices being issued, requiring immediate action - repairs to a dangerous piece of machinery, for instance.

Most fatal injuries on farms are caused by a combination of negligent behaviour and faulty equipment, such as failing to replace safety guards on tractors or standing by exposed moving parts while wearing loose clothes.