Tragic Lessons and Glimmers of Hope

During July, HSE released the annual fatal injury statistics for the UK.


  • The overall picture shows 111 people died whilst at work in the year 2019/20. Whilst this is the lowest annual total on record, it is still 111 families facing the loss of loved It is slightly unclear how the early phase of Covid in February and March affected numbers of people at work, however, the monthly statistics for the rest of the year show a lower rate of fatal injuries than previous years.

The rate per 100,000 workers shows an improvement in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, it remains though the sector with the highest rate of fatal injuries – 18 times the average for all industries.

There is welcome news in the statistics relating to the reduction in fatal injuries in the sector since the 1980’s. It gives us encouragement when looking to reduce further. What practices were commonplace in the 1980’s that we now look back on with horror that we used to do? What are the practices we do now that we will look back on with equal horror?

These are the tasks we should set about innovating for to enable that next step in the push to see a steady downward decline of these figures.



The graph below shows the fatality rate averages for the past five years by age in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing. What is striking is the sudden increase in rates of fatal injuries in the 60+ age range. With an acknowledged increase in the average working age in Forestry this needs further investigation.

So, what does this mean for Tilhill and our contractors? Over the last 11 years, since launching Insist on Safety, we have significantly reduced our injury rates and we continue to strive for better.


Below are the details of fatal accidents included in the 2019/20 Agriculture Statistics relevant to Tilhill’s work.

  • A 52-year-old forestry worker was killed when he was struck by a falling He was felling trees in woodland with a chainsaw while his colleague operated a winch. He had made some felling cuts on the trunk and was walking away from the tree when it fell, crushing him.
  • A 27-year-old self-employed forestry worker was killed when he was struck by a falling He was felling trees with a chainsaw and dislodged a branch from another tree. He died in hospital from serious head injuries.
  • A 44-year-old self-employed farm partner was killed when he was struck by a He had left the farmhouse to trim hawthorn with a chainsaw and was found trapped underneath a fallen tree.
  • A 56-year-old self-employed farm partner was killed by a rotavator with poor He had driven to a field and had stopped to make some adjustments. He was pulled underneath the machine and later found dead with the tractor engine running.
  • An 85-year-old self-employed farmer was run over and killed by a He had left his tractor, engine running, to open a gate. The tractor rolled forward and knocked him down.
  • A 73-year-old self-employed farmer was killed when he became trapped under an all-terrain utility vehicle (ATV). He was using the ATV to check sheep and was found under the overturned machine.
  • A 25-year-old farm worker was killed when he was trapped under a mower He was pressure washing a tractor-mounted mower when the mower fell from a partially raised position, crushing him. He died from those crush injuries.