All building projects on your farm must
be managed with health and safety considerations in mind, from the
conception, design and planning stages to site work and the
subsequent maintenance and repair. All building work involves risks
and you must put proper controls into place to manage them. Consult
a professional builder for advice if you are in any doubt about
your competence to carry out any aspect of a construction or
If someone dies as a result of work for which you are
responsible, you could be found guilty of corporate manslaughter or
corporate homicide. The sentencing guidelines for these offences
recommend that fines should be not less than £500,000 and can rise
to millions of pounds. Since 2007, it is no longer necessary to
show that a commercial entity has a 'directing mind', such as a
farm owner, who is responsible for overseeing the work in which the
death has occurred.
When planning a new farm building, consider how accessible it
will be for people, vehicles and machinery, how easy it will be to
maintain, and how these needs may change in the future. Spending
time on planning may well save you time and money on repairs and
alterations in the long run.
If you employ a contractor to do any work for you, including
demolition, the law imposes certain duties on you as a client.
These include allowing enough time for every stage of the work,
providing relevant information about the site, checking that
suitable management arrangements are in place for every stage of
the work, and making sure that there are adequate welfare
facilities on site before work starts.
If the work will last more than 30 days or involve more than 500
person days, you will also have to appoint a construction design
and management (CDM) co-ordinator, appoint a principal contractor,
ensure that a health and safety plan is in place, and keep a health
and safety file.
Before beginning an excavation, protect against collapse of the
sides, for example by shoring or battering. Remember that trench
sides may collapse suddenly, regardless of the nature of the soil.
Clear an area around the excavation to prevent people or objects
from falling in, and provide safe access. Poisonous or asphyxiating
gases may emanate from sewer openings or from marshy ground. Avoid
overhead power lines and underground services, including cables and
gas pipes. Consult the utility companies to identify any such
dangers before you start work.
Demolition and dismantling
Demolition and dismantling work must be carefully planned and a
written plan must be in place before commencing work. When
demolishing or dismantling a building, arrange to bring it down in
a safe and controlled manner. If any parts of the building remain
standing after demolition, ensure that they are in a stable
condition to prevent collapse. The demolition of buildings that
have any asbestos or asbestos insulation board in them is a
specialist task that must be undertaken by a licensed
Breathing in air that contains asbestos fibres can lead to
asbestos-related diseases, mainly cancers of the lungs and chest
lining. Your farm may well have some ACMs, for example pipe
lagging, sprayed asbestos used as fire protection in ducts, certain
textured coatings, asbestos insulating board (AIB) panels and
asbestos cement sheets and panels. Farm owners and tenants with
leases that include responsibility for building maintenance are
legally required to manage the risk from any such ACMs.
You must either find out the location and condition of all
asbestos on the premises, or assess if ACMs are liable to be
present and make a presumption that materials contain asbestos
unless you have strong evidence that they do not. You must then
prepare a plan that sets out in detail how you are going to manage
the risk and take steps to put that plan into action. You must also
provide information on the location and condition of the material
to anyone, including contractors, who is liable to come into
contact with it.
Work with asbestos and asbestos insulation board must be carried
out by a licensed contractor. Although you do not have to have a
licence to work with asbestos cement, any such work should be
properly planned, in writing, and steps taken to minimise the risk
of spread of asbestos.
Falls from or through roofs during maintenance work are one of
the major causes of fatal and serious accidents on farms. Many farm
buildings will have roofs which are either made of fragile
materials, such as cement sheets, or which include fragile
materials, such as roof lights. All roof work must be properly
planned, use the right access equipment and be carried out in a
safe manner to reduce the risk of falls. This will include the use
of appropriate work platforms, including mobile platforms, and
covering fragile materials to prevent falls through them. The
buckets of loaders or materials handlers are not suitable as a
means of providing safe access to work at height.
Want construction work done safely? (HSE)
Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (HSE)
A short guide to managing asbestos in premises (HSE)
Federation of Master Builders
Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007