Small steps that can make all the difference
A well know building contractor promotes their building sites using the phrase “Your Safety is my Safety”. It’s an expression that is just as applicable in the agricultural sector and apt to consider as part of National Farm Safety week given the risks posed to farm owners, workers and visitors. With 33 fatalities in the agricultural sector alone last year and an increase in the number of spot inspections by the Health and Safety Executive it has never been more important to consider if you are doing all you can to prevent incidents occurring on your farm. A death or serious injury not only has horrendous personal consequences for those involved but it can also see the farm receive large financial penalties which could put the future of the business at risk. For some the move to reduce the risk of an incident will involve large steps but for all there are some smaller steps to consider which can make a big difference in reducing the risk posed;
First Aid Kits – The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 makes provision for all workplaces to provide adequate first aid equipment and facilities. While the legislation only covers those directly employed and not contractors who are visiting or working on a short-term basis, the Health and Safety Executive states that they should be considered in your risk assessment when deciding what provision to make. Whether a family farm or a family with several external employees there should be at least one first aid kit centrally located and all those either living, working or visiting the farm should have a knowledge of where it is located. Moreover, while not specifically legislated for in a bid to reduce the risk to the farm business as a result of an incident it is worth considering if you can make provision for further first aid kits to be in tractors/farm vehicles etc. so that assistance can be administered on farm land some distance from the main steading.
Safe Space – Is there a place on the farm where someone with a minor injury can go to get first aid or provide it to themselves? It doesn’t have to be a full blown hospital wing, it can be somewhere as basic as the farm office. However above all it should be a clean space, with seating and clean running water which is available to all to deal with any minor first aid situation.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 employers are under a duty to provide appropriate personal protective equipment to employees, in other words employees should have suitable clothing and equipment to prevent the risk of being injured from the task they are carrying out. At the very least this is the provision of appropriate footwear such as steel capped boots and high visibility clothing. However it can also extend to things such as like respirator masks where there is a risk of breathing issues or a monitor for toxic gas levels where mixing and filling slurry tanks. While the duty under the legislation is on employers, you should also be making sure that any contractors visiting your site also have the appropriate PPE equipment before commencing work for you.
Training – Are your employees, contractors etc. sufficiently trained and skilled to do the job you are asking of them? The legislation around Health and Safety places a duty on the employer to consider the risks involved with everything they do or someone in their control to do and therefore it is vital that you always consider if someone is trained enough to do a job and therefore minimise the risk of you breaching your duty to them in the event of an incident occurring. For example a farm worker who normally works on an arable farm should not be working alone with cattle without being taught how to correctly handle them and have demonstrated that they can competently do so.
While accidents will always occur they are by no means inevitable. Investing in training and taking appropriate steps to prevent accidents not only helps to protect those working on the farm but they also protect you and your farming business’s long term future and success.
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