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Agriculture and Health & Safety

[02/06/17] Agriculture is the UK’s most dangerous industry, with more than 150 deaths over the past 5 years. Farmers and farm workers come into contact with heavy machinery, vehicles, chemicals and livestock and often work at height or nears pits and silos. They are also exposed to bad weather, noise and dust. Agricultural work is often physically demanding and the repetitive nature of the work can cause health conditions such as severe back pain and repetitive strain injury.



Figure 1) Agricultural fatalities over the past 5 years

The financial and personal costs of injury and ill health can be devastating. Good farmers and employers recognise the benefits of good health and safety procedures to minimise work-related accidents. Happy and healthy workforces are more productive, leading to better farming practice. Improving on farm health and safety also reduces financial costs associated with staff absences, insurance, legal costs and equipment failure.

Employers have a legal duty to ensure that adequate provision is made for health and safety at work. Management systems can be used to ensure that you, your workers, family members and others are kept safe whilst on the farm. Components of the management system could include:

A Health & Safety Policy: This sets out the company’s commitments to improve health and safety standards in the workplace. Farmers employing 5 people or more should have a documented Health & Safety Policy.

Risk Assessments: Almost all farm activities require a risk assessment. Identifying and ranking risk is the first step to reducing the likelihood of accidents.

Safe Working Procedures: Once risks have been identified, safe working procedures can be developed to control the risk.

Training, Awareness & Competence Planning: Employees should be kept well informed of risks on the farm, and any changes to procedures or equipment which may impact their safety. Employers must also ensure that workers are competent to undertake their tasks by identifying and arranging appropriate training.

Incident Reporting & Investigation: Investigating adverse events provides a deeper understanding of the risks associated with the operations on site and allows for identification of control measures to avoid repeat events.

Permit to Work Procedures: Non-routine work, such as maintenance, cleaning, equipment installation and refurbishment, can produce health and safety risks over and above those normally encountered in the workplace. A permit to work system is a formal written permission used to control jobs that have high hazard potential.

Maintenance Schedule: Maintenance influences many aspects of farm work, be it in the state of buildings and infrastructure, or the operations of machinery and equipment. A maintenance regime reduces risk of injury due to faulty equipment and un-safe working conditions.

WRM employees are experienced in producing Health & Safety Management Systems and have completed NEBOSH training— a widely recognised and reputable course for Health & Safety across various sectors. If you would like to improve or review the health and safety of your workplace, please contact Matthew Stupples (matthew.stupples@wrm-ltd.co.uk) to arrange an initial health and safety assessment.  



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