Health and safety in agriculture – the stats
Agriculture accounts for around 1% of the workforce in Great Britain and with an industry which faces hazards on a daily basis, such as machinery, chemicals, livestock, working at height and lone working there is a collective responsibility to those who live and work in this sector.
It has been widely reported in the press that accidents and fatalities on the farm have risen, with latest stats from the HSE reporting that 41 people died on UK farms between April 2020 to the end of March 2021 (up by 18 more than last year and 8 more than the five year average).
The importance of health and safety in agriculture
Health and safety is a key area of farm business management and with rising accidents and fatality figures, it is increasingly important to maintain high standards of health and safety on the farm for all workers and family members, including children who live on the farm.
Below are the areas which consistently feature year-on-year as the most common when it comes to injuries or deaths on the farm;
- Moving vehicles
- Contact with machinery
- Struck by moving, including flying or falling objects
- Falls from height
- Handling, lifting or carrying
- Slip, trip or fall on the same level.
What do you need to be prepared?
- Health and Safety policy
A regularly reviewed health and safety policy specific to your farm is important, outlining responsibilities and your aims as an employer.
- Create a positive health and safety culture
Organising your employees and workers to create a positive health and safety culture; the HSE suggests this includes four key areas;
- Communication – lead by example: provide relevant information around risks and hazards to employees and contractors, to keep health and safety part of everyday conversation.
- Co-operation – involve your workforce in reviewing work practices and solving problems.
- Competence – make sure all workers are adequately trained to do the job.
- Control – clear responsibilities and consequences for all workers.
- Risk assessments
Risk assessments, which our consultants can help you produce, involve five steps;
- What are the hazards? e.g. livestock, machinery, fire risks
- Who might be harmed and how?
- Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
- Put the results into practice
- Check controls stay in place and review the assessment
- Informing employees, contractors and workers
Whether you use employees, contractors, family members, temporary or lone workers on your farm, it is important to inform of the specific dangers related to your land as well as having safety signage displayed throughout. Even for the most experienced farmer it’s important to plan and control the situations on your site.
Creating a robust training plan for all workers, including first aid, working at height, lone working, those who are exposed to substances hazardous to health (COSHH) etc. Regular training will keep them informed, up to date and in line with your health and safety policy.
- Regular reviews
Regular monitoring, using checklists and thorough inspections e.g. vehicle inspections are key to keeping you compliant and your employees, workers and family safe.