Agricultural Workers Exposed to Risk of Whiplash Injuries

Lack of clear health and safety legislation on farms increases risk of serious neck injuries like whiplash

Falling from machinery, roofs, ladders or vehicles is the second highest cause of death in agriculture, according to the UK Government’s Health and Safety Executive. Unfortunately, most fatal falls and those which cause severe injury like broken limbs, back and neck damage and whiplash, could have been avoided. (HSE, 2009)

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their workers, removing the cause and preventing the occurrence of falls on farms. According to the HSE, agricultural employers must

* avoid work at a height
* prevent falls by using appropriate safety gear
* minimise the distance and consequence of a fall with the right equipment

What can go wrong…

The HSE reports three serious accidents involving falls, which could have been prevented by taking the necessary safety precautions.

A farm worker was injured whilst working in a potato store, by overbalancing and falling from an elevated basket on the forks of a farm vehicle onto the concrete floor below. Working from a designated elevated platform and following manufacturer guidance could have prevented the incident.

A woman suffered a fatal fall from a similar piece of improvised equipment – a cage mounted on a forklift truck. Her employer was sentenced and fined £10 000 for health and safety offences.

Another worker was left with head injuries following a fall whilst working on overhead pipes. He was using a bucket mounted to the loader of a tractor when he slipped and pushed the trip lever of the loader, causing the bucket to tip and the worker to fall two metres to hit his head.

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