The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is planning a series of farm inspections designed to monitor whether agricultural employers are protecting themselves and their workers from injury and health risks.
The head of agriculture at the HSE, Rick Brunt, said that he wants farmers to: “Improve their attitudes towards health and safety, and understand what a good farm looks like.”
The inspections follow a series of compliance events held in 2018 that were attended by over 1,000 farmers.
The reason the HSE is concerned about the agricultural sector is because it has the worst health and safety record of any industry. Every year around 13,000 injuries and over 17,000 cases of ill health are reported. Lung diseases and musculoskeletal disorders are common amongst farm workers.
To comply with The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, farms that employ more than five people must have a written statement of their health and safety policies. Those employing fewer than five people still need health and safety policies. These do not have to be written down, but it is recommended that they are.
Health and safety policies should include training and special measures needed when working alone. If temporary workers are employed at harvest time, they need to be aware of health and safety procedures. Special training is required for chainsaws and other farm machinery.
Often, simple measures can protect farm workers. Protective workwear such as gloves and overalls are effective, while dust masks prevent workers from inhaling harmful dust and spores in grain stores.