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Farm Injury Claims Advice

The risk of farm accidents and injuries

The farming industry is one of the most important parts of the British economy, employing 302,000 people in 2020, according to Government statistics, with an economic value of more than £4bn. However, due to the nature of the work, which can include operating heavy machinery, accidents are a common occurrence.

In fact, statistics gathered by the Health and Safety Executive demonstrate that working in agriculture, forestry and fishing is the most dangerous occupation in the United Kingdom.

According to the details published for 2020/21, farming has a higher accident incident rate than any other industry, and with a fatality rate of 11.37 per 100,000 workers – around 20 times higher compared to the all-industry rate. These figures demonstrate just how dangerous it can be working in agriculture.

DID YOU KNOW:Over the past 10 years, there has been on average nearly one death per week in the farming industry.

The working environment of any farm presents a host of threats and hazards. As well as the vehicles needed, agricultural work also involves using dangerous machinery, working at height or in pits and silos, working with chemicals and substances which generate dust, dealing with noxious or dangerous gasses, lugging heavy loads and working with livestock.

It is also part of the nature of farm work that it often takes place in the open air, thus exposing workers to poor weather conditions, and involves the kind of strenuous physical activity that can lead to injury or painful conditions such as backache.

If you would like to discuss making a claim for a farm accident, you can speak to a legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438 – or simply enter your name and phone number in the contact form on this page to request a call from an adviser.

What are the most common kinds of farm accidents?

According to the most recent HSE statistics, there are an estimated 12,000 workers in agriculture, forestry and fishing who sustain a non-fatal injury at work each year. The most common work-related non-fatal farm injuries include:

The most common cause of fatal injuries on farms involves being struck by a moving vehicle (28%), falling from height (16%) and being injured by an animal (15%).

DID YOU KNOW:You can claim compensation if you’re injured in an accident while visiting a farm.

Work-related ill health due to working on a farm

It is not just one-off accidents which can cause injury in an agricultural workplace setting. There are a number of other conditions – some of which can prove serious, life-changing or even fatal – that can be caused by working on a farm.

Many farm workers develop illnesses over the long term which can be traced back to inhaling dangerous dusts, coming into contact with toxic chemicals, being exposed to noise and vibrations and being affected by zoonoses (an umbrella term covering a range of illnesses which can be passed from animals to humans). Some of the most common conditions, according to the HSE, include:

Farmers’ lung

This common condition (also known as ‘allergic alveolitis’) arises from the inhalation of dust or spores arising from mouldy hay, grain and straw. Over the last decade, there have been, on average, seven deaths per year where farmers’ lung (or a similar condition) was recorded as the underlying cause on the death certificate. The disease only rarely progresses to a life-threatening level, suggesting that there are substantially more non-fatal cases of farmers’ lung occurring each year.

Occupational asthma

Silicosis and occupational asthma can arise from exposure to dust or fumes containing irritants – both of which are common hazards on a farm.

The chest physician reporting scheme for occupational respiratory disease (THORSWORD) shows that the incidence of occupational asthma in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector is higher than the average for all industries combined.

Skin disease

Common farm and rural-associated skin diseases usually include the following:

Factors that contribute to skin conditions in farmers include: long-term exposure to outdoor environmental conditions; solar radiation; repeated contact with chemicals from plants, pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers; and the risk of allergic reactions from arthropod stings and bites.

Occupational cancer

Lung cancer, nasal cancer, skin cancer and bladder cancer can all be caused by exposure to carcinogenic chemicals and hazardous dusts on a farm.

DID YOU KNOW:Estimates suggest that up to 10,000 injuries on farms go unreported each year.

Does an employer have a duty to keep me safe?

Although farms are naturally hazardous places, this doesn’t mean that people working or even visiting them should simply accept the fact that accidents are going to happen. Like every other workplace, a farm is covered by the legislation laid out in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Under the auspices of these laws, the owner of the farm, or the person responsible for its running, has a legal duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure that accidents don’t happen and that both farm workers and visitors enjoy the safest possible environment.

It’s impossible, of course, to eliminate all risk in a place such as a farm, particularly when larger scale factory farms can employ many people and use various types of automated equipment, but if you or someone close to you has been injured or even killed following an accident on a farm then you may be in a position to make a claim for compensation.

Under health & safety laws, anyone responsible for running a farm has a duty to:

If your employer has failed in any of these above duties and you are injured as a result, you may have a claim for compensation. You can find out more by calling a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438.

What do I have to show to successfully bring a compensation claim?

A successful claim will depend upon demonstrating two different facts; the first is that you have been injured or made unwell due to conditions on the farm and the second is that these conditions arose due to the negligence of the other party.

This negligence might involve not providing the proper equipment or safety gear, not offering training, not dealing properly with hazardous substances or anything else which, you feel, the person responsible for your health and safety should have recognized as a risk factor.

When assessing negligence, the court will gauge whether your employer’s actions failed to meet the standard of what the ‘reasonable man’ or the famous ‘man on the Clapham omnibus’ would do in the same situation.

Why should I make a compensation claim?

One of the best reasons for making a compensation claim following an accident on a farm, over and above the fact that it will allow you to start putting your life back together again, is the fact that successful claims of this kind will help to drive up safety standards in the industry as a whole. The foreword to the HSE guide to safety on farms goes into some detail regarding the extent and scale of the problem:

“The persistently high rates of fatal incidents and work-related ill health in the industry are of real concern to HSE, the representative industry bodies and many farmers. HSE is continually working to use new technologies and innovative methods of communication to improve, target and deliver key health and safety messages and guidance to those working in the industry.” – Graeme Walker, Head of the Agriculture and Food Sector, Health and Safety Executive.

Although figures show that only around one in every 100 workers in the UK actually works in the agricultural sector, it accounts for nearly a quarter of the fatal workplace injuries which take place every year, and the personal injury compensation system is one way of combatting this poor safety record.

It should be remembered that the party found to be negligent will be paying compensation from funds provided by insurance which they have a legal duty to take out, rather than, as people sometimes suppose, from the farm’s own funds.

DID YOU KNOW:The owner of a farm must display a copy of their certificate of insurance where workers can easily read it.

What is the process for claiming farm accident compensation?

If you feel that you’ve been injured or made unwell because the person responsible for the safety of a farm failed to take all reasonable steps to keep you safe, then you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

If you are unsure whether you can bring a claim you should contact an injury lawyer.

The process used for bringing your claim for a farmyard accident will depend on how your injury was sustained and what the injury is. Workplace accident claims will usually be brought by your specialist personal injury legal lawyer using the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury (Employers’ Liability and Public Liability) Claims, while if you suffered an industrial disease from working on a farm, this will usually be brought by using the Pre-Action Protocol for Disease and Illness Claims.

These protocols outline the standards and processes that you and the other party must follow throughout your claim. They aim to encourage the parties to exchange information at an early stage, consider using a form of alternative dispute resolution to settle the dispute, and assess whether you have needs that could be met by rehabilitation, treatment or other measures.

Your personal injury solicitor will work hard to negotiate you the out-of-court settlement you deserve, but if your case does have to go to court (which might happen if your case is particularly complex or of high value, the other side doesn’t admit responsibility, or you can’t agree a compensation settlement), they will be with you throughout the process to offer legal advice and guidance and speak in court on your behalf.

If your case does have to go to court (most compensation claims don’t), your claim will be allocated by the court to one of three ‘tracks’ (the small track, fast track or multi-track). This will depend on the value and nature of the claim. Both parties will then be given a strict timetable which you must work to, which aims to bring your claim to a conclusion as quickly as possible.

How much compensation will I receive?

Any compensation awarded will include a lump sum calculated on the basis of the type and severity of your illness and the limits it places on your future capabilities, and another amount designed to ensure that you do not suffer financially as a result of your accident. This second strand of the compensation, known as “special damages”, covers immediate expenses such as travel costs, medical bills (including any which are expected to arise in the future), and loss of earnings, as well as any future loss of earnings if you are no longer able to work. This might include an amount designed to compensate for a reduced ability to earn a living, or to pay for long term care and expenses such as alterations to buildings or vehicles.

What should I do if I’ve been injured on a farm?

If you want to bring a compensation claim because you have been injured on a farm and you feel your employer breached health & safety laws, you should start the claims process as soon as possible while the circumstances that caused your injury or condition are fresh in your mind and in that of any potential witnesses. This will also make it easier to gather the material which a specialist personal injury lawyer will use to strengthen your case. This will include:

DID YOU KNOW:You can claim compensation for the psychological as well as the physical injury that you have suffered.

How will I pay for my claim?

Although solicitors now have to take a ‘success fee’ of up to 25% from any compensation awarded, the no win no fee system still protects claimants from the financial consequences of losing a case (if you lose, you pay nothing), while also making it possible to pursue compensation without having to pay up front charges.

What are time limits for bringing a claim?

There is a time limit of three years from the date of the accident for most claims of this kind. However, in the case of an illness such as farmer’s lung (which may not develop until several years later), the three year limit will only start from the date upon which the illness becomes apparent.

There is also an exception for children who are injured in a farm accident – they have three years from their 18th birthday to start a claim themselves (or a parent/legal guardian can start a claim on their behalf if they are under the age of 18).

Can I make a claim if my partner dies in a farming accident?

If someone dies from the injuries they sustained on a farm, a claim for compensation can be brought if you are:

If a loved one has died, you can claim compensation for:

DID YOU KNOW:In agriculture, forestry and fishing in 2020/21 there were 34 fatal injuries, an increase of 13 on the previous year. The five-year average for fatal injuries in this sector is 28.
About the Author

Lucy Trevelyan LLB

Lucy is a NCTJ trained journalist who studied law at the University of Greenwich. She is a legal journalist and editor with more than 20 years experience writing about the law.

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