Agriculture and Farming Accidents28 Apr 2020
Agriculture and farm work is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous areas of employment, and health and safety concerns should be a priority for everyone involved in this industry.
This work can be arduous and hazardous, outdoors and in bad weather. It can be poorly regulated and controlled, irregular employment and low paid. For these reasons it tends not to be popular work and there can be labour shortages.
For the past 15 years most agricultural work in the UK has in fact been carried out by East European migrant workers. For those employees English is a second language, which adds a further layer of risk, making them more vulnerable to accident and injury and unfair working and living conditions.
Just recently United Kingdom has joined Germany in flying over Romanian farm workers to help amid a continuing recruitment crisis in the agriculture sector. Another 15 flights have been planned for the beginning of May to bring in farm workers to both Germany and United Kingdom. Due to the current pandemic, the Romanian authorities confirmed that they have been assured by the local authorities in the countries where the farm workers go that appropriate measures will be implemented to protect them from being exposed to Covid-19. It is anticipated that more will follow from mid May as then the harvesting season begins for the majority of farms.
As farmers across United Kingdom rush now to recruit as many East European farm workers as possible in order to save the harvest, there is a real risk that they will overlook all necessary health and safety precautions and expose their workers to serious injuries and illnesses.
More often farm injury can be caused by: dangerous animals, heavy duty machinery, tractors, trailers and other farm vehicles, falls from a height or being hit by falling objects, exposure to hazardous substances such as chemicals and pesticides. Accidents are caused by inadequate training, improper use of machinery or the lack of proper safety equipment.
In 2018/2019 figures published by Health & Safety Executive (HSE) show that 39 people were killed as a result of farming and other agriculture-related activities during that year and that most of the fatalities were caused by overturning vehicles or being struck by moving vehicles.
It is important to understand that if unsafe working practices, unsafe equipment or facilities result in injury to the worker, the employer is usually responsible. But the worker has to establish liability and to prove his case. Where possible, the worker should note any actions, people or practices that may have contributed to the accident, to take details of any witnesses and photographs.
There are particular considerations with making a farm accident claim. For example, a common problem associated with injuries and losses arising from farming accidents is that the injured farm worker is often self-employed and dependent upon their employer for accommodation, sometimes renting caravans directly from the employer.
Understandably an injured farm worker may be uncomfortable with the thought of bringing a claim against the employer, particularly when there are concerns over job security.
We often find that clients, especially migrant agricultural workers, are concerned about losing their jobs as the result of making a personal injury claim, but the law is there to protect them.
Farm accidents often result in serious and life changing injuries and it is vital that the injured party get full compensation for medical care and rehabilitation, loss of earnings and other long term losses.
Osbornes Law’s award winning personal injury department specialises in serious work accident cases has East European teams covering Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Czech and Slovak speaking workers.
Blog post written by Maria Tiron, Romanian solicitor in the Personal Injury team.
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