Make sure you stay farm safe and your livelihood is not at risk from inadequate cover

Farming remains to be one of the most dangerous occupations in Northern Ireland.
Farming remains to be one of the most dangerous occupations in Northern Ireland. Farming remains to be one of the most dangerous occupations in Northern Ireland.

UNFORTUNATELY, farming remains to be one of the most dangerous occupations in Northern Ireland.

Indeed, a recent warning from Robert Kidd, chief executive of The Health Service Executive of Northern Ireland (HSENI), suggested that local farmers are even more at risk than their counterparts in other parts of the UK.

For those involved in the agricultural and farming sector, farm safety and ensuring that adequate insurance cover is in place should be key priorities. The HSENI recognise that many farm accidents go unreported. This may stem from the fact that the majority of farm workers are self-employed and often don’t want to report an accident, for fear of bringing themselves under the notice of health and safety officials, but it is vital that agricultural workers continue to report such incidents, to raise awareness of the importance of safety on farms and to help reduce and prevent future work-related injuries.

As a result of this, the total number of accidents reported in Northern Ireland is not wholly accurate, therefore the figures which the HSENI must rely on are fatalities. Tragically, eight deaths were recorded in Northern Ireland’s agricultural sector in 2018. Worryingly, statistics from a 2015 survey of Northern Ireland farmers suggest that there could be as many as 100 incidents per month on farms which require hospital treatment. In fact, a survey Autoline carried out in 2017, found that 81 per cent of farmers agree that farming is a dangerous industry where accidents can happen frequently.

The 'Stop and Think SAFE' campaign was developed by the Farm Safety Partnership to help tackle the high rates of serious accidents and deaths on Northern Ireland's farms, focussing on the four main causes of fatal accidents on local farms: slurry, animals, falls and equipment. While it isn’t a topic many farmers want to spend time thinking about, a lack of awareness of hazards on farms can put the farmer and their family at risk, as well as any other workers. In many cases, farming accidents are preventable with the correct knowledge and precautions in place.

Some general safety tips for your farm should include:

• Restrict children under the age of thirteen from driving on tractors and using any form of machinery.

• Create a plan so that family members know what to do in an emergency.

• Restrict access to dangerous parts of machinery and make sure there are protective guards in place.

Farmers should take time to discuss their insurance needs in detail with their broker, to make sure that the level of protection offered by insurers is sufficient. Autoline can arrange a combined policy tailored to suit your farming needs; covering things such as farm buildings and contents, livestock, as well as public and products liability.

Advice from an experienced farm insurance expert is invaluable. Farmers should ask questions and keep their insurer updated on changes or updates that may impact their cover. A broker with an experienced claims team in place will also be able to offer guidance and assist in the event of unforeseen circumstances. With diligence, a safety plan and the right cover in place, farming can be both successful, while also being safe.

::Richard Henderson is head of agriculture insurance at Autoline. For more information on Autoline’s farm insurance or to speak to our specialist team directly, call 03452 30 30 30 or visit