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Union wants to see construction safety standards for farms

A union has called on the government to adopt a more active approach to farm safety in a bid to reduce the number of deaths on farms.

The government had previously asserted that inspection is "unlikely to be effective", but this is strongly disputed by Unite, which wants "roving reps" to carry out inspections in a bid to instil better working practices on UK farms, such as making sure protective workwear is being utilised. 

One in every five workplace fatalities occurs in agriculture, a figure which Unite national officer Cath Speight called "unacceptable". 

"Other high-risk industries, particularly construction, have seen death and accident rates fall over the years," she said.

"But this has not happened in agriculture."

Health and Safety Executive figures show that in 2010/11, the provisional fatal injury rate in agriculture was 8.0 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Of these, farm vehicles accounted for 26 per cent of fatalities, with a further 32 per cent caused by falls from height and being struck by objects.

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