Accidents in the workplace are common
but, by planning ahead, much can be done to prevent them. Planning
can help to make the ways you work safer and more efficient.
Employers, whether of large or small farms, have legal
responsibilities to safeguard the welfare of their staff at work,
and that of any visitors, contractors or service engineers. The
purpose of health and safety is to ensure that people at work are
safe and the work environment does not cause illness or injury.
Farms that employ staff should also have, and display, employers'
liability insurance, ensure they possess the correct documents and
provide a copy of the leaflet 'Health
and safety law: What you should know' to each member of
Following is a list of
considerations for identifying how to ensure your farm complies
with health & safety law.
Hazards refer to substances and
practices at work that, if not handled properly, may cause harm.
These can include chemicals, poultry dust, slurry, lifting heavy
loads, working at height, or with machinery and farm vehicles.
Hazards may also refer to work areas within buildings where, for
example, staff may slip on wet floors or need to work with
chemicals such as fertilisers. In order to prevent hazards from
causing real harm, a risk assessment should be carried out to
assess the likelihood that a hazard will harm someone. Once risks
have been identified, a plan can be devised to eradicate or control
them. This should include fire and evacuation
Equipment for use at work should
be fit for purpose, well maintained and regularly inspected.
Manufacturers' recommendations for use and routine maintenance
should be followed. If equipment uses electricity, it may need to
be waterproof or dustproof. Electrical installations, junction
boxes, and overhead and underground power cables also need to be
identified and protected, and plans detailing their location should
be kept for reference. Fire extinguishers and alarms should be
placed in appropriate locations and maintained regularly.
Equipment such as chainsaws
and circular saws for tree work will need regular checks and
maintenance to ensure they are safe to use.
When handling animals, there is
a risk of being kicked, crushed or bitten. Indoor handling
facilities should include restraints, such as bull poles, leg
restraints, halters and pig boards, to help prevent physical
injury. Animals being handled should be separated from the rest of
the herd. Handlers need proper training, as certain jobs may
increase the stress of the animal and the risk to the handler.
Consider using races and shedding gates when handling smaller
animals such as sheep.
An employer has to provide free
health and safety training for their staff for any equipment they
need to use. This may be provided in-house if there are suitable
competent people on site to do so. This should include the use,
maintenance and checking of personal protective equipment. Staff
who receive training are more likely to operate equipment and carry
out processes safely, and are less likely to suffer or cause
accidents. Untrained staff, casual workers and new recruits
undergoing training need to be supervised. Training also needs to
incorporate the physical aspects of work, such as how to carry
loads without causing sprains or strains.
Proper procedures should be put
into place for dealing with injuries, spills of hazardous
substances, knowing the whereabouts of all staff on the farm,
particularly lone workers, and for dealing with fires or
explosions. First-aid equipment and facilities need to be made
available to suit the workplace requirements, such as an
appropriately stocked first-aid box, travelling first-aid kits for
tractors and other vehicles, and areas or equipment for showering
off chemical spills and splashes. Practice drills and training of
staff should take place regularly to ensure that all are familiar
with the necessary processes. Consideration also needs to be given
to which accidents to report, when, and in what manner.
Steps that are put in place to
ensure health and safety should be monitored regularly and updated
as necessary, for example, to comply with changes in regulations or
the use of new equipment. This can be carried out by doing spot
checks, through regular maintenance or as one-off checks in
response to an equipment fault or an injury. In larger businesses
it may be useful to record details of monitoring procedures and to
schedule these into the work timetable.
Health and safety for small
Health & Safety law what you
need to know
An introduction to Health and
Farmwise: Your essential guide
to health and safety in agriculture (HSE)
Farming health and safety
RIDDOR - Reporting of injuries,
diseases and dangerous occurrences regulations (HSE)