Farm workers lack of first aid skills causes death and injury

A study has found workers in the agricultural industry are unlikely to be able to use first aid when needed, putting themselves and colleagues at risk of injury or death.

The study by St John Ambulance found agricultural, fishery and forestry workers are the most accident prone, with 54 per cent of employees having been present when a colleague needed first aid. Mining came in second with 44 per cent and manufacturing was third with 40 per cent.

A lack of first aid has had a big impact on agricultural, forestry and fishing workers, with 28.8 per cent having lost a colleague to an accident or illness that could have been prevented by adequate first aid.

The charity said many businesses were not equipped to handle a first aid emergency, with 50 per cent of employers lacking any formal process for assessing first aid needs.

Director of training and marketing at St John Ambulance, Richard Evens, said: “Every employee deserves to feel safe in their working environment and ensuring there are enough first aiders in the event of an emergency is paramount.  

“Employers need to remember that one first aider is rarely enough. If that first aider goes on holiday or is taken ill, the workplace is left vulnerable. They should also remember that learning first aid at work doesn’t just make workplaces safer but also benefits family, friends and strangers too with so many first aiders using their skills outside of work.”

St John Ambulance’s research comes the same week the charity launches a hard-hitting campaign highlighting people’s misconceptions about the impact of a lack of first aid at home and in the workplace.

The campaign highlights the fact that up to 140,000 people die each year in situations where first aid could have helped save their lives – as many as die from cancer. 

It comes after statistics revealed the farming sector had retained the unwanted tag of Britain’s most dangerous industry.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provisional data for April 2011 to March 2012 showed there were 33 deaths in agriculture over that period - three more than the previous year.

NFU Mutual said the cost to the industry from livestock injuries and deaths this year was expected to hit £6m in claims by farmers, farm workers and their relatives.

The rural insurer’s spokesman Tim Price welcomed the St John Ambulance campaign.

“I know from personal experience that some farms’ first aid kits are either hard to find or turn out to contain a couple of plasters and a dried-up bottle of antiseptic.

“We recommend all farmers get their family and staff to brush up on their first aid skills.”

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