Alarms raised over decision to stop farm inspections

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

It comes following HSE’s announcement that they aim to focus more on occupational health issues rather than preventative general health and safety.

The FSP, a NFU initiative which looks to minimise risk on farms, fear that the decision will pose significant risks for agricultural workers in the farming sector.

Speaking for the first time as Farm Safety Partnership Chair, NFU deputy president David Exwood said: “We cannot afford to compromise on the safety of our farmers. The decision to halt inspections is deeply troubling and we urge the government and HSE to reconsider and continue to work collaboratively with farmers to help ensure they are compliant.

Mr Exwood said that the wellbeing of the nation’s farmers and growers must be a priority, and that a lack of public awareness surrounding the decision questions this viewpoint.

“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,” he said.

Research by the HSE itself shows that agriculture has the worst rate of fatal worker injury per 100,000 workers, with those over 45 making up 80% of incidents.

Moving forward, Mr Exwood said the FSP are calling on Defra and the Department for Work and Pensions to recognise the implications of the decision, and to urgently review its potential impacts.

“We will be engaging in conversations with the government and the wider industry to support the development and implementation of policies and practices that safeguard the livelihoods of those working in agriculture, ” he concluded.

More information on the FSP can be found here

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