Farm safety was under the spotlight at the final conference – hosted by the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) in Brussels today – of the AgriSafetyNet project.

In Europe, more than 500 deaths are recorded in the agriculture and forestry sector, and in excess of 150,000 non-fatal accidents occur, on average every year.

But, many believe that these figures do not represent the true numbers of fatalities and injuries.

AgriSafetyNet aims to increase knowledge of farmers and practitioners in agriculture on occupational health and safety and risk prevention, using collaborative learning methods.

Farm safety – risks

CEJA president, Diana Lenzi, who opened the conference said that “farming is a rewarding but demanding job, which often comes with a series of risks and dangers”.

CEJA represents the political interests of around two million young farmers from across Europe.

But, she said she is “grateful to AgriSafetyNet project partners for striving to create much-needed education and training for farmers on agricultural health and safety”.

In addressing the importance of safety for farmers, CEJA vice president Thomas Duffy – former Macra ne Feirme president – highlighted that agriculture is the sector with the fourth highest number of accidents after construction (21%), manufacturing (17%) and transportation and storage (16.5%).

“It’s a fact that farmers are exposed to many physical risks, injuries and mental stress,” he said.

“We need to do something to protect our farmers and farm workers. AgriSafetyNet project is a step forward towards increasing farmers’ safety and health.”

Over the last 10 years, officially, there has been an average of over 500 registered deaths/year in the EU agriculture and forestry sector, and over 150,000 non-fatal accidents.

This was highlighted by director of international projects, CIHEAM Zaragoza, Alun Jones, who presented to participants the 2020 EU-OSHA report: Review of the future of agriculture and occupational safety and health.

“These figures only present a partial image of the real picture with experts in the sector convinced that there is a huge under-reporting of both fatal and non-fatal accidents, considering that EU figures do not generally include the self-employed and others who are not registered as ‘workers’ in their calculations,” he pointed out.

What is AgriSafetyNet project?
This Erasmus+ funded project started in September 2019 and is a partnership between Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra (Slovakia); Comunitatea Pentru Invatarea Permanenta (Romania); The Polish Farm Advisory and Training Centre (Poland); Edu Consulting (Czech Republic); Defoin (Spain); Hof und Leben (Germany); and CEJA.

The final conference gathered young farmers from all over Europe, as well as academics, policy makers and various stakeholders.