Former JLS Star JB Gill has thrown his weight behind an initiative to improve farm safety for both staff and children after it emerged agriculture is still one of the most dangerous industries to work in.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that 29 farm workers were killed in the last year – 18 times higher than the average across other major UK industries.
Four members of the public were also killed, including two children under the age of 16, between April 2017 and March 2018.
Linzi and Richard Nelson lost their three-year-old son Stuart last year when he ran round a corner into the path of a reversing vehicle.
Among staff, the biggest cause of death was livestock, accounting for a quarter of all fatalities, followed being being struck by a farm vehicle at 18%, and by a structure collapsing at 15%.
Singer Gill, who turned to rearing pigs, turkeys and chickens after quitting music in 2013, has joined forces with Farm Safety Week to call for better safety measures on working farms.
Gill, who has two young children, said: “Farms can be wonderful places for children to grow up but the sad fact is that farms are the only workplace where children continue to be involved in fatal accidents, which is heart-breaking for the farm owners and the families involved, as well as a horrific tragedy for their communities.
“Being part of the farming community and having a young child myself, I want to help highlight the importance of child safety on farms.”
He urged farming families to put “simple and practical” measures in place to improve safety.
While children are at risk, the organisers of Farm Safety Week, which runs between July 16 and 20, emphasised that older adults accounted for the majority of deaths.
Twenty-one of the 29 farmer workers killed were over the age of 60, while 14 were over the age of 65.
Farm Safety Week is a joint initiative by the Farm Safety Foundation, the Farm Safety Partnership, the HSE, the HSE for Northern Ireland and the Irish Health & Safety Authority.
Now in its sixth year, they run awareness campaigns such as Mind Your Head and Who Would Fill Your Boots? and make short films to raise awareness about safety.
Stephanie Berkley, of the Farm Safety Foundation, said: “Unlike other occupations, farmers don’t tend to retire at 65 and often work well into their 80s.
“Factors such as health, agility and stubbornness combine with risk-taking, fatigue and improperly maintained machinery to create this ‘risk’ nightmare.”
She added: “We can continue to make powerful and emotive films and offer advice and guidance but we can’t do one thing.
“We can’t make farmers change their attitude. Only they can make that change.”