Farmers urged to review their health and safety measures
The Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) is urging farmers throughout the UK to review their health and safety measures. The warning follows the news of three tragic fatalities on farms over a four-day-period and a recent HSE prosecution.
The three tragedies occurred on farms spread across England including Dorset, Cheshire and West Yorkshire. The causes of death in these particular cases included a farmworker being struck on the head by a falling concrete slab, falling from an unsecured wooden crate lifted by a forklift truck and a young farmworker being trapped between a chassis and trailer body. Deficient risk assessments, poor work planning and insufficient training will have no doubt played a part in these incidents.
Prosecution against Ken Mills Engineering Ltd
An engineering company, Ken Mills Engineering Ltd, has been fined for safety breaches after one of its workers suffered a life-threatening injury whilst repairing a Trojan Haylage Baler on a farm in Wakefield in February 2017. The hydraulic ram trapped and crushed the worker’s left arm, resulting in an amputation from above the elbow.
Repairing the baler was a job that required several engineers across a number of days. No risk assessment for this particular job was carried out and the engineers were ‘not provided with effective information, instruction and training for this activity’. The workers were left to devise their own system of work, which was not safe. Techniques that were suitable within a factory environment were not suitable on a farm site.
Leeds Crown Court found the company guilty of breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £18,000 and ordered to pay over £50,000 in costs.
The HSE inspector indicated that ‘this incident could have been easily prevented if the company had assessed the repair activity; identified site-specific hazards and typical custom and practice, provided a safe working procedure and then effective information, instruction and training for that procedure and the repair work that day’.
The agriculture industry is regarded as high-risk when it comes to health and safety. These incidents can have life-changing and tragic consequences but can be avoided. Farming businesses should take care to risk assess hazards on their sites, to implement safeguards to mitigate those risks and protect workers/third parties on your land. Risk assessment and methods of working should also be reviewed after an incident or near-miss.
Our Agriculture and Rural Business team offers unique insight advising farming businesses and agricultural landowners having their own personal experiences within the sector. Kathryn Gilbertson, Head of Regulatory, is renowned for her health and safety expertise.
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