FSP raises ‘serious concerns’ over HSE’s decision to stop farm inspections

The Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) has raised serious concerns over the recent decision made by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to halt farm safety inspections.

The Farm Safety Partnership (FSP)raised serious concerns over decision by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to halt farm safety inspections.

The HSE recently announced that it will be focusing more on occupational health issues rather than preventative general health and safety inspections.   

It will continue to provide investigative inspections in response to serious incidents such as on-farm accidents or deaths.  

FSP fears that the decision will pose “significant risks” to the health and safety of agricultural workers in the farming sector.  

Prioritising safety of farmers

Speaking for the first time as Farm Safety Partnership chair, NFU deputy president David Exwood said that the decision to halt inspections is “deeply troubling”.

The partnership urges the government and HSE to reconsider and continue to work collaboratively with farmers to help ensure they are compliant.

He added: “We cannot afford to compromise on the safety of our farmers. We simply must prioritise the wellbeing of the nation’s farmers and growers.

“The lack of public awareness surrounding this decision raises serious questions about their prioritisation of safety within the farming sector.

“While the HSE assures us that investigative inspections will continue in response to serious incidents, the lack of all regular inspections, training and events leaves a notable gap in proactive and preventative safety measures that could prevent accidents and save lives.”

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Culture of farm safety 

Mr Exwood underlined that agriculture has one of the highest rates of fatalities and serious injuries in any workplace. He said that to help bring this number down, the sector needs to work on changing farm safety culture.

He added: “This decision by HSE completely goes against that goal. We are calling on Defra and the Department for Work and Pensions to recognise the critical safety implications of this decision, urgently review the potential impacts and establish a clear plan to prioritise the safety of those in the sector.”

Improving poor record

Gavin Lane, Country Land and Business Association (CLA) deputy president and former chair of the Farm Safety Partnership, said: “Farming has an unenviable record of being the most dangerous industry in the UK.

“While we have seen some improvements in recent years, too many farmers are still being injured or killed so it is concerning that the HSE is withdrawing from farm inspections.

“The whole industry must be involved in improving our poor safety record, from manufacturers to the government to farmers themselves. Whilst we understand the financial constraints the HSE is under, it beggars belief that this is the right time to withdraw from their inspection regime and their proactive farm visits and training days.”

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