Take A Moment

Agriculture health And Safety

ESSENTIAL INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE ON HEALTH AND SAFETY IN AGRICULTURE

In the last ten years almost one person a week has been killed as a direct result of agricultural work, making it the riskiest industry sector to work in. Agricultural workers also suffer 13,000 non-fatal injuries a year, whilst back pain, sprains and strains are over three times the rate of all other industries. The cost of injuries to agriculture is estimated to be about £190 million a year. The Farm Safety Partnership recently set a target to reduce the number of farming fatalities by at least 50% by summer 2023


| SAFETY ON FARMS

| CHILDREN ON FARMS


TAKING CHILDREN TO WORK?

However tempting, children should not be taken to work on a farm. For example, it is illegal to carry children under the age of 13 in tractor cabs.

Most years, farming work will lead to the death of at least one child by their parent or a close family member. Most children under five who are killed in farm accidents are with an adult at the time. It is very difficult to supervise children, especially toddlers, when doing work that requires your close attention.

LIVING NEAR A FARM

Are there children living on or near your farm? If so, you need to take action:

  • Provide a securely fenced play area with enough activities to keep children busy
  • Keep children away from farming activities and work traffic
  • Make sure everyone working on the farm knows they should stop work immediately if an unsupervised child suddenly appears in the work area. Take the child somewhere safe
  • With older children, explain the dangers and any No Go areas
  • Put up warning signs in dangerous areas and make sure the children know what they mean.

LEARNING THROUGH EXPERIENCE?

Health and safety regulation does not prevent learning through experience. It can be undertaken in a planned way with direct supervision.

There is nothing wrong with your child watching what you do if:

  • The task itself is not inherently dangerous
  • The person doing the task is not the same person supervising the child, and the child is kept in a safe place.

Remember - although parents are responsible for preventing their children straying or trespassing into areas where they may be at risk, all adults working in agriculture employers, employees, contractors, or other visitor, must take responsibility for child safety.


|WORKING AT HEIGHT ON FARM


THE RISKS

Falling from height is one of the biggest causes of workplace death and life changing injury. Falls are the second highest cause of death in agriculture; during 2018/2019 seven people were killed by falling from height.

The law covers all work activities where people could fall and injure themselves. The responsibility for ensuring safety sits with the employers, the self-employed and others who have control over work at height.

There is a safety hierarchy that you should follow when carrying out work at height:

  • Avoid work at height where you can
  • Use work equipment or measures to prevent falls
  • Use work equipment that minimises the distance and consequences of a fall

WORKING ON ROOFS

Working at height on roofs is particularly dangerous; just recently a self-employed farmer died after falling through a fragile roof. Most types of fibre cement roofs will be fragile and roof lights can also be fragile. No one must ever work on or from, or walk over fragile roofs unless platforms, covers or similar are provided which will adequately support their weight. Always consider first whether it is necessary to access the roof; does the work need to be done, or could it be done in some other way, such as from below or from an integrated work platform.

IF YOU, YOUR EMPLOYEES OR CONTRACTORS DO NEED TO ACCESS ROOFS FOR ANY REASON THEN ALWAYS:

  • Plan the work
  • Set aside enough time to do the work
  • Take account of weather conditions such as light levels, ice, wind and rain
  • Make sure everyone knows the precautions to be followed when working at height
  • Fix a prominent permanent warning notice at the approach to any fragile roof
  • Never walk on fragile materials such as asbestos or other fibre cement sheets, roof lights or glass. Roof lights and glass may have been painted over
  • Never ‘walk the purlins’ or ‘walk the line of bolts’
  • Roof ladders or crawling boards must span at least three purlins. They should be at least 600mm wide and more when the work requires it
  • Take precautions to prevent a person falling from the ladder or board. Use edge protection or safety harnesses, or safety netting where this is not feasible.
  • Roof ladders must be securely placed, with the anchorage bearing on the opposite side of the roof. Never use gutters to support any ladder.

Click the tabs to view previous Take A Moment topics:

| WORKING WITH LIVESTOCK


THE RISKS

Every year incidents involving livestock account for a large proportion of the injuries sustained by people working on farms or to members of the public. The effects can be severe; many injuries caused by cattle result in a farmer being unable to work for months. A total of 28 people lost their lives over the past five years as a result of being injured by cattle and bulls. Working with livestock, particularly cattle, will always involve risk. Sensible health and safety is about managing that risk. The most recent HSE annual workplace fatality statistics reported that being killed by an animal is the second highest cause of death in farming. Handling cattle and livestock always involves risks: the risk of being hurt physically by an animal that is frightened or has been startled and the risk of being hurt due to poorly thought out handling facilities, the misuse of equipment or failing to maintain.

HANDLING EQUIPMENT

Handling cattle always involves a risk of injury. To reduce this risk it is vital to ensure you have proper handling facilities which you keep in good working order. This includes a race and a crush suitable for the animals you handle.

The Crush

A crush should allow you to do the most straightforward tasks in safety (including oral treatments, ear tagging and work from the rear end). Crush Checklist:

  • It should have a locking front gate and yoke (ideally self-locking) allowing you to hold the animals head firmly.
  • There should be a rump rail, chain or bar to minimise forward and backward movement of the animal
  • It must be secured to the ground or, if mobile, to a vehicle
  • The gates must open smoothly with the minimum of effort and noise
  • It should be positioned to allow you to work safely around it, with the risk of contact with other animals
  • It should have a slip-resistant floor, made of sound hardwood bolted into place (nails are not suitable, metal chequerplate or with a rubber mat over the base
  • For specialised tasks, such as belly or foot trimming you will need a purpose-designed crush

Other Handling Tips:

  • Consider the need for shedding gates after the crush to allow animals to be sorted into groups
  • Work around the crush will be more convenient if it is under cover with a workbench nearby (for example, documentation, veterinary medicines or instruments)
  • Do not use makeshift gates or hurdles – this will make handling more difficult and increase the risk of injury

HANDLING SAFELY

  • Stock tasks should always be carried out on restrained animals using good handling facilities
  • Ensure workers are in good health, fit and have the physical ability to work with livestock
  • Doors in the race should be operated from the working side so you do not have to reach across to close the gate
  • Do not work in the crush if there is an unsecured animal waiting in the race behind
  • Ensure the crush is fitted with a self-locking front gate, a yoke, rump rail and a bar; it should be able to constrain an animal whatever their size
  • Never enter an enclosure when a bull is loose, or a cow is with a calf unless the animals are restrained or segregated

HANDLING SAFELY

Remember, many of the steps to stay safe only require you to Take A Moment to think about. Other safety measures, such as a well-designed and built handling system may seem expensive but will last many years. Handling livestock with good facilities will also save a lot of time and if you consider the business consequences of an injury, costs less than an accident. Never underestimate the risk from cattle, even with good precautions in place. It could save your life. Many farmers never stop to consider why animals behave as they do and, more importantly, what this behaviour could mean to their personal safety. Although most animal incidents are not fatal, many men, women and children are needlessly injured every year due to unwise risk taking. Broken bones, crushed or mashed limbs, work absences and unnecessary medical expenses are some of the results of livestock-related incidents so it is important to Take a Moment to think about improving livestock handling systems and making them safer and more efficient.

|WORKING AT HEIGHT ON FARM


THE RISKS

Each year incidents occur involving livestock and members of the public. Some of these result in death or serious injuries. Almost all the incidents investigated by the HSE are in fields and enclosed areas. The two most common factors involved in these incidents are cows with calves and walkers with dogs.

When you are considering where to keep livestock you should consider that members of the public are unlikely to be aware of the behavioural characteristics of cattle. You should also consider the amount and type of public access in different areas of the land you manage (e.g. large groups of walkers with dogs every day, groups of children, or infrequent lone walkers). This will help you decide whether the cattle should be kept in certain areas and what precautions you need to take.

Precautions if you graze bulls or groups of entire male cattle for bull beef

  • Bulls of recognised dairy breeds (e.g. Ayrshire, Friesian, Holstein, Dairy Shorthorn, Guernsey, Jersey and Kerry) are in all circumstances banned from being at large in fields crossed by public rights of way.
  • Beef bulls are banned from fields or enclosures with footpaths unless accompanied by cows or heifers.

CHECKLIST

  • Do not keep bulls of recognised dairy breeds in fields containing public rights of way.
  • Wherever possible, select fields without rights of way when cattle are calving or have calves at foot and where this is not possible to separate the animals from the path, fit signs at field entrances advising the public of the risks.
  • Check cattle for causes of aggression, such as illness, at least once a day and segregate any animals that display aggressive behaviour.
  • Check that fences, gates, stiles etc. are safe and fit for their purpose
  • Plan how to safely move individual cattle, the whole herd, or part of it, from field to field. Remember that inadequately controlled cattle on roads can cause public concern, damage or injury.

TAKE A MOMENT

Remember, many of the steps to stay safe only require you to Take A Moment to think about. Many of the safety measures detailed above are inexpensive but could save a life. Never underestimate the risks from cattle to the public, even with good precautions in place.


| TAKE A MOMENT

As an industry leader and farmer-owner company Mole Valley are in a unique position to make a real difference and influence cultural change within the sector by helping to improve safe working practice on farms. Mole Valley recently launched a new initiative that asks farmers to ‘Take A Moment to consider their safety. At the heart of the initiative are the following themes –

Take A Moment to

  • Consider the task you are about to undertake

  • Consider your environment.

  • Consider the machinery you are about to use

  • Think ‘what if…’

  • Plan a safe return home at the end of every day

Health and safety is a fundamental requirement of a sustainable farming business and should be regarded as an essential part of farm business management. As farmers you use management systems to make sure that your crops and animals are kept healthy and productive. You plan what to plant and when, assess the risks of disease and other incidents that may spoil the crop or animal. You control any problems, monitor growth and decide when to harvest. You also work out how successful you have been and come up with improvements. Managing health and safety is no different, you need to manage it to make sure that you, your workers, family members and others are kept safe at work.

WHY TAKE A MOMENT MATTERS

  • Figures recently published by the Health and Safety Executive show 39 people were killed as a result of farming and other agriculture related activities during 2018/2019. This is an increase on 33 from the year before and 30 in 2016/2017.

  • Agriculture has the worst rate of worker fatal injury (per 100,000) of the main industrial sectors; it is eighteen times higher than the average rate across all industries.

  • Transport: overturning vehicles or being struck by moving vehicles caused most deaths.

  • Nearly half of the agricultural workers killed were over 60.

  • Seven members of the public were killed.

  • Two young children were killed.

 

| MENTAL HEALTH IN AGRICULTURE…

  • Recent research by the Farm Safety Foundation in 2019 revealed that:

    • 84% of farmers under the age of 40 believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today
    • 85% believe that there is a link between farm safety and mental health
    • 86% believe that talking about mental health in farming will remove any stigma attached to it.
  • Farming can be a highly stressful occupation and the industry is exposed to a unique set of circumstances and stressors

  • Although not an accurate indicator of poor mental health in the industry, it is important to know that, in 2019, there were a total of 102* suicides registered in England and Wales in those working in farming and agricultural related trades (*Office of National Statistics)

  • Farming has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK and stress is often a key factor in many of the accidents, injuries and illnesses taking place on farms.

If you need to talk to someone contact the Farming Community Network helpline on 03000 111 999


| BRUCE'S STORY

| GREG'S STORY

For more information on agricultural health and safety please visit the HSE website where you will find a range of resources and information.

Here are some helpful links to key resources:

Fatal injuries in agriculture, forestry and fishing in Great Britain 2019/20Fatal injuries in agriculture, forestry and fishing in Great Britain 2019/20

Fatal injuries in agriculture, forestry and fishing in Great Britain 2019/20

Figures published in the Health and Safety Executives’ report Fatal Injuries in Agiculture, Forestry and Fishing in Great Britain 2019/20 show 21 people were killed as a result of farming and other agriculture-related activities during the year.

Farm Vehicle Safety

The most common cause of serious and fatal injuries in agriculture involve moving and overturning vehicles. Transport movements in and around the workplace need to be controlled to protect pedestrians and to prevent damage to equipment and buildings. Other incidents happen when people leave a vehicle without making sure it cannot move or cause injury in other ways.

‘Safe Stop’ is the most important safety action of all:

  • Handbrake on
  • Controls in neutral
  • Engine off and remove the key

It is sometimes easier to break transport activities into three areas: vehicle, driver and site.


Safe Vehicle

Check that vehicles, machines and handling equipment are capable of safely performing the jobs to be done and are properly maintained. Vehicles should be fitted with roll-over protective structures and seatbelts if there is a risk of overturning. Keys should be kept secure when not in use.

Safe Driver

Drivers should be medically fit to drive, properly trained and authorised to drive. Never allow passengers to ride on or in vehicle cabs unless they are sitting on a passenger seat and cannot impede the driver, accidentally make contact with the machine controls or obscure the driver’s vision.

Safe Site

Vehicles and pedestrians should be separated where possible and visiting drivers should be aware of your site rules. Traffic routes should be properly maintained and adequately lit. The need to reverse should be reduced where possible.

All-terrain Vehicles

Many quad bike fatalities in the UK have been caused by head injuries. Helmets would have prevented most, if not all, of these deaths. You should always wear a helmet when riding a quad bike. Never carry a child as a passenger, it is illegal and will reduce your ability to control the ATV.
References: HSG270 Farmwise

| SAFETY PRODUCTS

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