Farm work safety week newly launched to fight rise in fatal accidents

TOKYO, Feb. 17 – The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries established the farm work safety promotion week for the first time, starting Feb. 16.

During the period up to Feb. 26, the ministry will organize events and forums aimed at reducing farming accidents so that the agriculture industry will reconfirm the significance of measures to secure safety at farms.

The number of farm workers who died of work-related accidents in 2019 totaled 281, up seven from the previous year, according to the ministry’s statistics released on Feb. 16.

The ministry also plans to set up on Feb. 25 a panel to discuss effective policies to secure farm work safety.

Efforts made during the period to improve safety in the agriculture and food industries include a symposium on work safety on Feb. 16; a conference on promotion of safety confirmation campaign along with agricultural machinery manufacturers between Feb. 17 and 19; and a business matching event between Feb. 24 and 26 to introduce companies and research institutions developing and selling cutting-edge technologies and materials related to work safety.

At the symposium, ministry officials pointed out that many of the accidents related to farm work are caused by agricultural machinery and warned against such incidents as falling off a tractor or getting caught in a machine.

They said many of the cases took place because the operators failed to take basic safety measures due to lack of safety awareness.

According to the ministry’s statistics on fatal accidents in agriculture, the number of people involved in such accidents in 2019 was 16.7 per 100,000 farm workers, tying with the rate in 2017 which was the record high in a decade.

The rate is three times higher than that in the construction sector with a high number of work-related fatal accidents.

While the construction industry has been successful in reducing the number of work-related deaths per 100,000 workers, the rate is on an increasing trend in the agriculture industry.

Among farm workers who died of work-related accidents in 2019, 248 were aged 65 or older, occupying 88 percent of the total.

As for the causes, 184 died of accidents while operating agricultural machinery, accounting for 66 percent of the total. It is notable that the rate rose as much as 6 percentage points from a year before.

On Feb. 25, a panel of farmers and work safety experts will be created and hold its first meeting online to discuss effective safety measures.

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