Public Footpaths: Accidents

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered at on 21 March 2024.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Chair, Work and Pensions Committee, Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what information his Department holds on the number of members of the public who have been killed by cattle whilst walking on public rights of way or open access land in the last three years.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Chair, Work and Pensions Committee, Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what information his Department holds on the number of members of the public who have been seriously injured by cattle while walking on public rights of way or open access land in the last three years.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Chair, Work and Pensions Committee, Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that farmers follow duties under (a) section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and (b) Cattle and public access guidance published by the Health and Safety Executive.

Photo of Paul Maynard Paul Maynard The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Over the period 2020/21-2022/23, eight members of the public were killed in agriculture, forestry and fishing in work-related incidents involving cattle while walking on public rights of way or open access land. This information has been published on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website Fatal injuries in agriculture, forestry and fishing in Great Britain 2022/23 (hse.gov.uk)

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) provide the national reporting framework for accident reporting and place a duty on responsible persons (usually employers, certain self-employed persons, and those in control of work premises) to report certain cases of injury, diseases and specified dangerous occurrences to the relevant Enforcing Authority.

Incidents involving livestock and members of the public are reportable under RIDDOR where they result in either a fatality or a member of public attending hospital, directly from site, for treatment in respect of any injuries sustained. Many serious incidents are not reported so HSE does not have verified data on major injuries sustained by members of the public involving cattle. However, some analysis was done in 2020/21 for the Agriculture Industry Advisory Committee and this suggested that 26 members of the public sustained non-fatal injuries from cattle whilst walking on public rights of way or open access land.

The safety and health of people at work in agriculture and members of the public who are affected by agricultural activities is a concern to HSE and the industry. HSE has a long-term strategy to drive up industry ownership of the challenge and influence farmer behaviour to comply with long standing legal requirements. Since 2018, HSE has delivered an annual programme of free training to farmers in advance of targeted proactive inspection. These targeted inspections specifically check if farmers are complying with the law in relation to management of risks from workplace vehicles, cattle (including the management of cattle in fields with public rights of ways) and falls.

Earlier this year HSE has launched its 2024 Agricultural Campaign Work Right Agriculture - Work Right to keep Britain safe which includes a clear focus on management of livestock in a bid to improve safety on Britain’s farms. HSE is committed to supporting farmers to work safely with livestock.

HSE also produces guidance to enable farmers and landowners to manage the risk from cattle put into fields which also have public access. Guidance is available free of charge on HSE’s website:

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