Action Needed to Reduce Deaths on Scotland’s Farms and Crofts

Scotland’s death rate increases to 13 in 2018/2019

More needs to be done across Scotland to tackle the death rate in agriculture, as its revealed 13 people died last year on Scotland’s farms and crofts. This is five more deaths than in 2017/2018 – the highest average increase across Great Britain during this period.

To mark the start of the annual Farm Safety Week campaign today (Monday 15 July), the Health and Safety Executive has released its latest Fatal Injuries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing for Great Britain 2018/2019 report. It details that agriculture has the worst rate of worker fatal injuries (per 100,000) of the main industrial sectors: 18 times as high as the average rate across all industries.

Farm Safety Week – led by the Farm Safety Foundation - brings together five countries over five days with one clear goal – to inspire farmers to look after their physical and mental wellbeing and reduce the number of life-changing and life-ending accidents on our farms. In a year when it has been revealed that, despite there being seven times more workers employed in the construction industry than agriculture, forestry and fishing, you are actually seven times more likely to be killed on a farm than on a construction site.*

The year’s messaging is encouraging those right across the industry to take action, rather than just speaking about making improvements.

Key statistics from the report include:

  • 39 people were killed on farms over the past year in Great Britain
  • 13 people were killed on Scotland’s farms or crofts, an increase from eight in 2017/2018
  • Of those killed in Great Britain, 32 were agricultural workers and seven were members of the public, including two children
  • 47 per cent of fatal injuries occurred to workers over 60 years of age
  • Despite increased awareness of the issue farming still has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, around 18 times as high as the all industry rate, accounting for more than 22 per cent of all workplace fatalities.

Throughout this week, NFU Scotland on behalf of the Farm Safety Partnership Scotland, will be issuing case studies and blogs whilst publishing messages on farm safety on social media to encourage those working, living and visiting the rural community to take heed of the messages and put words into action.

Commenting on the statistics revealed today, NFU Scotland Chief Executive Scott Walker on behalf of the Farm Safety Partnership Scotland said: “One death is disappointing to hear but to hear that 13 people have died on Scotland’s farms and crofts in 2018 is heart-breaking.

“It is concerning that whilst a conscious effort has been made by many to prioritise safety on farms and crofts in recent years, this number continues to increase. The fact that three of the five ATV deaths in the UK happened in Scotland is a stark reminder that everyone using a quad bike should be wearing a helmet and should be abiding by guidance from HSE on their safe use.

“Once again this reinforces that everyone whether they live, work or visit a farm or croft must put safety as the number one priority. We fully appreciate the challenges upon those in the industry to get the job done when struggling to make a living, but there is nothing more important than your life.

“Farm safety is everyone’s place and we need action to be taken to reduce the death and injury toll on Scotland’s farms and crofts.”

Notes to Editors

  • Farm Safety Week aims to reduce the number of accidents which continue to give farming the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK and Ireland
  • Farm Safety Week is an initiative led by the Farm Safety Foundation and supported by the Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health and Safety Executive, Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health and Safety Authority, Ireland.
  • For further information on Farm Safety Week go to or to for tips and advice.
  • If publicising on social media please tag Yellow Wellies where possible and use the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek
  • *In 2019 there are currently 333,000 workers employed in agriculture compared to 2,426,000 employed in construction. There were 32 deaths in agriculture in 2018/2019 compared to 30 in construction. This means there are seven times more workers employed in construction than farming however you are seven times more likely to be killed on a farm than on a construction site. 



Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Author: Ruth McClean

Date Published:

News Article No.: 98/19

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About The Author

Ruth McClean

Having worked in the communications and journalism industry for the last 11 years, NFU Scotland’s Communications Manager Ruth McClean understands the needs of journalists and has extensive knowledge of the wider agricultural industry. After growing up in Argyll and Bute and working in the area as a reporter for local newspapers for eight years, Ruth joined NFU Scotland in 2013 in her current role. She is also Editor of the Union’s membership magazine the Scottish Farming Leader.

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