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New campaign launched to reduce fatalies and serious injuries on Scottish farms

Less than a week after a teenager suffocated on a farm in the Borders, a new campaign is launched to reduce fatalities and serious injury on Scotland's farms and crofts.

It is thought Zach Fox, 18, died after falling into a 50ft high silo tower at a farm overlooking the village of Denholm in Roxburghshire. His name will join those of nearly 80 other men, women and children who have died on farms and crofts over the last decade, according to figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which indicate significantly more have been badly injured as a result of farming activities.

The statistics for the 10 years show that 13 people have been killed on Scottish farms by falls when working at heights; nine people have been killed in incidents involving livestock; 26 people have been killed when their vehicles overturned or they have been struck by a moving vehicle; and six people have been killed when they came into contact with working machinery or equipment.

Unlike those who work in offices or factories, accidents while working in rural areas can remain undetected during the very time when early medical attention is vital. Since 2010, agriculture has been the most dangerous industry in Britain, based on fatalities per worker.

Now a unique partnership has been formed to campaign for greater safety on the land. The Black Isle Show on the edge of the Ross-shire village of Muir of Ord, an event second only to the Highland Show in importance to Scotland's agricultural community, was chosen for the launch of the Farm Safety Scotland Partnership.

It brings together, National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland, insurance company NFU Mutual, HSE and the Scottish Government. They have produced a new campaign leaflet "Working Together to Save Lives". It outlines the four most common dangers on farms - Falls, Animals, Transport and Equipment - and urges farmers and crofter not to leave their safety to FATE.

Referring to Zach Fox and five-year-old Liam Lyons who died earlier this week after being hit by a tractor driven by his dad on a farm on Co Offaly, Ireland, NFU Scotland Vice President Allan Bowie said: "Tragic incidents in the past few days across the UK and Ireland remind everyone that farms can be dangerous places."

He said the Farm Safety Partnership intended to change behaviour and attitudes to reduce the risks of common farm jobs.

"Most people will be able to recall a close call situation that could so easily have resulted in serious injury or even fatality. By adopting some simple steps as part of everyday working practices we can reduce the number of accidents and deaths on Scotland's farms," he said.

Martin Malone, of NFU Mutual Scotland Manager said: "Whilst other industries, including construction, have seen accidents fall sharply in recent years, the number of people killed and injured on our farms has remained high and farming is now the most dangerous occupation in Great Britain."

He said as the insurer of the majority of Scottish farms, NFU Mutual was "all too aware of the dreadful impact that deaths and serious injuries have on farming families".

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment was at the launch. He said every single tragedy was one too many.

In January a four-year-old boy has died after being crushed by a horse on his family's farm in South Lanarkshire. Meanwhile almost exactly a year ago a 39-year-old farm worker was killed in a combine harvester accident on a farm near Turriff, Aberdeenshire.

Contextual targeting label: 
Agriculture

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