The risk of catastrophic falls from height on farms could be significantly reduced if rigorous health and safety practices were implemented and maintained, say private and commercial litigation specialists Clarke Willmott LLP.
Daniel Gill, a civil and regulatory dispute resolution Partner at Clarke Willmott’s Bristol/Taunton offices, says there has been an increase in the volume and levels of fines issued in such cases.
“The UK’s agriculture sector is responsible for the highest workplace death and injury rate of all the main industry sectors, with a fatal injury rate 18 times higher than the All-Industry rate,” said Daniel.
“Sadly, falls from height injuries or death are not rare and the consequences of failing to maintain good health and safety practices on farms can be severe, not only for the injured parties and their families, but also for the employers.
“While campaigns such as the NFU’s Farm Safety Week have done much to raise awareness of the dangers of farming, falls from height are the second biggest cause of death in agriculture and one of the most common causes of non-fatal injury.
“This is hardly surprising given the potential hazards that a typical farm worker encounters on a daily basis. Machinery, vehicles, livestock, working at height and chemicals all pose risks, risks which are compounded by the weather, fatigue and time pressures.
“With roofs, lofts, ladders, vehicles and bale stacks all featuring on the average operating farm, working from height cannot necessarily be avoided so employers must ensure that adequate health and safety practices are adopted and followed.”
In addition to assisting those accused of health and safety breaches, Clarke Willmott also supports claimants who have suffered serious injury.
Lee Hart, who heads the firm’s serious injury team, highlights the recent case of a 21-year old farm worker who was awarded £6.6m after suffering a spinal cord injury which left him tetraplegic after falling from a ladder on his family farm in 2013.
“A claim was brought against the family partnership that runs the farm, blaming the accident on health and safety breaches, including the fact there was no scaffolding, which would have given him safe access to the top of the wall on which he was working.
“The damages are being paid by the farm’s insurer and will be used to pay for his future treatment, rehabilitation and lifelong care.”
Clarke Willmott LLP is a national law firm with seven offices across the country including Manchester.
"The UKs agriculture sector is responsible for the highest workplace death and injury rate of all the main industry sectors, with a fatal injury rate 18 times higher than the All-Industry rate."
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