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Farming in Focus

18 February 2019
Agriculture remains a particularly high-risk industry which accounts for approximately 19% of reported fatal injuries in Great Britain each year. With 33 fatalities reported in the last year alone as a result of farming and other agriculture-related activities, it is no surprise that the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has recently announced that there will be a number of spot checks conducted on farms in order to ensure that businesses are complying with industry standards and minimising risk where possible. 

The current guidance from the HSE focuses on how agricultural businesses can achieve best working practice in order to protect employees and non-employees on farms. Below are some practical tips to ensure that risks are controlled and you are prepared for an unexpected visit from the HSE. Some of the main areas of focus are as follows:

Vehicle operation 

  • Ensure that all operators have received training on each vehicle they use and reiterate that they are to follow the simple safe stop routine every time they get off or out of a vehicle
  • Check loads to ensure that they are stable, secure and within the correct weight limits
  • Do not take passengers unless they are over the age of 13 and are in a passenger seat at all times whilst the vehicle is in operation
  • Ensure that the relevant annual maintenance checks are conducted on load lifting equipment and checks carried out on any lifting accessories every six months 
  • Create and maintain separate routes for vehicles and pedestrians and ensure that any pedestrians are clearly visible by using high-visibility clothing and adequate lighting

Working at height

  • Only allow trained individuals to erect scaffolding or operate a MEWP
  • Where possible, use a competent contractor to conduct roof work. In the event that this is not possible, ensure that workers have received the relevant training and use a suitable work platform
  • Use harnesses and fall arrest equipment where necessary
  • Ensure that the work is properly planned, managed and supervised


  • Ensure that any children on the farm are supervised at all times and kept away from the farmyard and other work areas 
  • Only allow children to observe, under supervision, tasks which are not inherently dangerous and ensure that children are in a safe place at all times 


  • Ensure that workers do not go in the crush if there is an unsecured animal waiting in the race behind and always ensure that bulls and cows with calves are restrained/segregated before entering an enclosure
  • Ensure that appropriate mechanisms such as a self-locking front gate is fitted to the crush in order to safely constrain animals 

Manual moving of loads

  • Avoid manual handling where possible and assess whether job can be performed using a machine 
  • Fully utilise mechanical and lifting aids when the risk of injury is higher for example, when loads are heavier, more difficult to grip and are carried for long distances 

If you require any further assistance including advice to ensure that you are compliant with safety law, or in the event of an incident please contact the RCI team who will be able to assist you. 

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