Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE) launch specialist Health and Safety Group

Agriculture is the most dangerous industry in the UK wit h almost one person being killed each week on farms and related activities. Many serious injuries and cases of ill health also occur across the land-based sector and the incident rates show no sign of reducing.

To promote the principles and share best practice in ‘Health and Safety’ through the wide profession of agricultural engineering, IAgrE has signed up to support the industry’s Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) and is launching a specialist Health and Safety group, focussed on bringing together IAgrE members and others with an interest in promoting Health and Safety.

“The land-based sector inevitably involves a diverse range of hazardous activities and operations and agricultural engineers have a key, pivotal role to play in improving safety and reducing risks to health, including exposure to noise and vibration, chemicals and dust, etc,” said Alan Plom, Vice-Chair of the IOSH Rural Industries Group and IAgrE member.

“In addition to securing improvements by design of machines and improving operations to make activities inherently safe, the industry has agreed that there is a need to change the culture and attitudes of those working in the industry. Every member of IAgrE has a role to play in this process, not just through improving and applying engineering technology but sharing information and promoting good practice. IAgrE’s Health and Safety Group is intended to encourage and facilitate that process,” said Alastair Taylor, CEO of IAgrE.

The new specialist group was launched at the ‘Managing Cattle Safely’ workshop organised by IOSH Rural Industries Group on behalf of the Farm Safety Partnership at Askham Bryan College. The event was aimed at FSP members and non-members, and delegates included manufacturers, designers, college lecturers trainers and agricultural consultants, as well as farmers and livestock unit managers.

“Seven of the 31 people killed in agriculture during 2013-14 died as a result of coming into contact with cattle and a total of 29 workers and 9 members of the public have died in cattle-related incidents in the past 5 years. Many others have been injured, some seriously. Few are a result of ‘attacks’ by bulls (or cows), most occur during routine handling and as a result of inadequate precautions or facilities,” added Alan.

A key message from the Workshop was the importance of understanding cattle behaviour to improve handling methods and design of facilities. The new IAgrE Health and Safety Group will help to share ‘new thinking’, good practice and relevant guidance – across the whole range of hazards faced by the industry.

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