17 October, 2011
Cutting the number of deaths and
serious injuries in the Westcountry's farming industry will be a
key focus for Cornish Mutual in supporting European Health and
Safety Week later this month (24-28 October).
The rural insurance firm, which has Members across Cornwall,
Devon, Somerset and Dorset, is highlighting figures from the Health
and Safety Executive (HSE) which show that agriculture is the
number one sector for fatalities and major injuries.
In 2009/10 there were four deaths in the industry in Cornwall,
Dorset and Somerset, as well as 72 major injuries and 113 non-fatal
injuries in the South West region alone.
The most common causes include being run over, vehicle
overturning, falling from height, hit by moving or falling objects,
drowning or asphyxiation, contact with machinery or livestock,
being trapped by something or contact with electricity.
Cornish Mutual is launching a year-long initiative during
European Health and Safety Week to raise awareness of the issues
amongst farmers and landowners. Over the next twelve months, the
company will be working closely with a number of organisations to
promote the 'safer workplace' message.
Alan Goddard, Managing Director of Cornish Mutual, said:
"European Health and Safety Week is a really good opportunity to
encourage activities that make the workplace much safer and
healthier. We will continually remind people not to cut corners
when it comes to taking sensible health and safety measures,
particularly to help reduce incidents in higher-risk industries
"Given that agriculture is the lifeblood of our regional
economy, health and safety is a real issue for farmers and
landowners and should be high up on their agenda. Put simply,
farmers, landowners and all other businesses in the South West must
comply by law. Health and safety legislation exists to protect
people from real risks mainly at, or connected with, work but it
can cover other areas like schools
In the UK, health and safety law is governed by the Health and
Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Where an employee is killed or
injured at work, the Health and Safety Executive can instigate a
criminal prosecution, which may result in a financial penalty
(fine) and in certain circumstances of corporate manslaughter could
result in imprisonment for those individuals responsible. There is
also the potential for a negligence claim against the farmer or
Alan Goddard added: "Ignoring current health and safety
legislation and failing to act could have very serious
consequences. Business owners could face a costly claim or even a
prison sentence if a member of staff is killed or injured while at
work. There is no room for complacency when you're potentially
putting people's lives at risk through your activity."
Dave Shepherd, Health and Safety Advisor with Safety Cornwall
Limited, added: "Although farming has the worst safety record,
identifying hazards and taking measures to reduce the risks is the
first step for farmers and landowners in helping to improve the
situation. Everyone has a responsibility for good health and safety
practice and I would urge people to take it seriously. You should
look at your own policies and procedures regularly to avoid being
caught out. Fewer risks mean fewer accidents and that's the best
way of driving down these statistics in the future."
Farmers and landowners in the Westcountry are being reminded
that they should have the right insurance cover in place to
indemnify them against their legal liabilities, in the event of a
death or serious injury. Although it is not compulsory, they are
advised to have suitable public liability cover in place. Employers
Liability cover, however, is a compulsory insurance.