8th January 2018

Farms ‘more dangerous than building sites’

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Farms and estates should use the new year as an opportunity to review their approach to health and safety, a property agent has advised.

David Canty, farm consultant and health and safety specialist with Strutt & Parker, said farms and estates are now regarded as more dangerous places to work than construction sites.

He emphasised that appropriate policies must be put in place to minimise health and safety risks.

He said: “The number of fatal accidents in the agricultural industry during 2016/17 was 27, according to figures from the Health and Safety Executive.

“That equates to 7.73 deaths per 100,000 workers in agriculture, compared to 1.94 in construction.

“The quieter winter months are a good time to review the policies and procedures that you have in place. It is also an opportunity to service and repair equipment that has worked hard and to get jobs done that have been put on the ‘to-do list’ during the busier times of the year.”

According to Mr Canty, promoting a good health and safety culture is paramount – but everyone needs to make the effort,

He said: “Encouragingly, the younger generation seems to be very savvy about it and are often vocal about expecting measures to be in place, along with the provision of ongoing training.

“This results partly from colleges pushing the health and safety message more than they did in the past.”

He has issued some simple tips for anyone living and working on a farm, to minimise the risks of a life-changing accident. These include:

  • Have appropriate signage in place and observe the instructions
  • Always turn machines off when leaving them
  • Never leave keys in the ignition
  • Beware of people, machines, livestock and buildings when maneuvering vehicles and machines around yards
  • Do not leave vehicles or implements in place where they could cause an obstruction
  • Always lay heavy objects flat so they cannot fall over

Mr Canty added: “If people pledged to adhere to all these measures as their new year resolution then we could see a reduction in the number of fatalities in the industry.

“Appropriate signage throughout the workplace is essential and should be visible as soon as someone enters the farm or estate.

“Examples include speed restrictions, warnings about the possibility of vehicle movements or signs alerting people to the dangers of overhead cables. In the workshop, they could include mandatory blue signage instructing operators to use eye protection when using a grinder.”