North West has the highest number of farm deaths in the country

The North West of England has seen a large increase in the number of deaths on farms. 

Figures from the Health and Safety Executive show there were five fatalities in the year 2019/20 in Cumbria and other areas of the north west, compared to just one the year before. 

Across Britain as a whole 21 people died in agriculture, forestry or fishing accidents over the last year, around half of the previous year, But the number of cases in the North West is the highest of any part of Britain. 

Cumbrian farmer, Hannah Jackson, known as the Red Shepherdess, knows all about the dangers. "We are working with big machinery all day, with unpredictable animals," she says. "We are in very high pressure situations with big, scary consequences if things aren't done right."

She knew one young farmer who was killed in the last year in south Cumbria after being crushed by falling hale bales. 

"He was on his own and no one was there to help him and unfortunately he lost his life from there. It was a realisation that we are not invincible and we can't keep living by the motto of 'it won't happen to me'." 

Other deaths in the north west included a man falling through the roof of a building and another suffering head injuries after being knocked over by a cow. Vehicles are often involved in farm accidents. A four year old boy was killed in Lancashire when he fell under one. 

Neil Curr, the chairman of Cumbria Young Farmers, sells farm machinery in Penrith. He also knows of people who've been involved in accidents. 

"I have a friend who rolled a quad bike on top of her and wasn't wearing a helmet," he says. "Thankfully she survived and lived to tell the tale but that was quite a serious accident and she ended up in hospital for a few days."

He believes that people need to follow all the safety advice to try to reduce the number of accidents. 

"Take note of rules and look up the guidelines, use as much safety equipment as possible, get your machines serviced and checked over regularly."  

Half of all the fatalities in Britain were in the over 55s. To try to reduce the number of accidents this has been designated as Farm Safety Week.

The campaign hopes to improve farmer safety Worldwide. Credit: ITV West Country

"The main cause of worker deaths this year was farm transport so that would be tractors and quad bikes that are being used a lot more on farms now," says Stephanie Berkeley, Manager of Farm Safety Foundation. "These things do not change year in year out. Over the last 39 years there have been the same three or four causes of fatal accidents on farms. The only difference is the use of quad bikes in farming, which is now part and parcel of modern farming."

Increasing awareness of the problem is seen as the first step in trying to reduce it and helping to make the countryside a safer place. 

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