Written by James Claughton, 14th August 2023
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently reinforced its commitment to working with farmers and those involved in the agriculture sector to make British farms safer. It is doing so through its “Work Right Agriculture – Your Farm Your Future” campaign which aims to help reduce deaths and injuries on farms, which remain amongst the highest across all major industries.
The main cause of deaths in the sector is moving vehicles which accounts for 30% of deaths in the last five years. Other common causes include, being crushed or trampled by livestock, being struck by an object such as trees or bales, as well as, falls from height.
The HSE campaign urges farmers across Great Britain to think differently about safety and as a starting point encourages those involved to consider three areas of day to day agricultural activity:
- Safe farm
- Safe driver
- Safe vehicle
The HSE provides practical advice for creating a safer farm and farmers are advised to:
- Separate farm vehicles and people through clearly marked routes and walkways to help to avoid injuries
- Install barriers and posts in heavy traffic zones to protect people
- Install signage, bright lighting and have people wear high visibility clothing to help everyone be seen on the farm
- Ensure traffic routes are properly maintained and well lit
- Make sure that visiting drivers are aware of site rules, including parking areas, one way systems etc.
Vehicle maintenance is crucial to ensure farms are safe and the most recent campaign has reminded farmers to:
- Frequently check and maintain brakes on each vehicle. Trailers must have brakes designed for maximum loads and speeds at which they will operate
- Ensure seatbelts are used at all times
- Make sure that doors are attached securely and closed whilst the vehicle is moving (for vehicles which have doors fitted as standard)
- Ensure mirrors are fitted securely and clean for full visibility (For vehicles that have mirrors fitted as standard)
- Ensure that all maintenance is carried out by someone with appropriate knowledge and expertise
As obvious as it may seem, driving safely can prevent injuries and fatalities. The HSE urges drivers to take a minute to consider the following in order to be a safe driver.
- Always use the handbrake. If the vehicle moves because of the terrain/ gradient, drivers should follow the simple safe stop routine before exiting a vehicle; handbrake; gears in neutral; engine switched off and remove key.
- Always consider visibility. Ensure mirrors and windows on the vehicle are clean. Consider blind spots when manoeuvring a vehicle.
- Each driver must be trained to use specific vehicles safely prior to use of any vehicle on a farm.
It is crucial to properly maintain vehicles and ensure all farm machinery is safe to use; the HSE urges farmers to check for faults before it is too late.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
It is, of course, acknowledged that there is already significant pressure on British farmers by the very nature of the work, however, fatigue and complacency can lead to tragic incidents and the consistently high number of deaths and serious injuries occurring within the sector year on year cannot be allowed to continue.
The HSE has urged farmers and farm workers to consider what could happen if they do not follow the above steps that have been identified as a simple but effective way to keep everyone on the farm safe.
The HSE have reminded the farming community and wider public that they will not hesitate to take action against those who continue to fall short and breach health and safety legislation. Therefore, it is important that farmers and workers alike take note of this guidance and do their part in making farming safer and healthier for all.
Awareness of and adherence to health and safety legislation is critical, indeed it is always better to ensure compliance rather than risk the consequences of enforcement action for failing to do so or worse still the potentially far reaching consequences for workers and non-workers in the event of an adverse incident.
What should you do if the HSE get in touch?
If you or your business do come under investigation, it is important to seek legal advice and assistance as soon as possible. The team at Olliers will help you navigate the process and ensure that everything that can be done is done to secure the best possible outcome.
Whether the HSE decides to prosecute or not, the team at Olliers have a wealth of experience in providing advice and assistance to employers, employees and companies facing investigation and prosecution, so get in touch with our experts.