We often read and are told about all the outrageous rules and regulations imposed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Whether ‘conkers banned in schools’ or ‘no flying kites on the beach’; it can leave us wondering how we are supposed to get anything done. However, in most, if not all of these bizarre cases it is found that these headlines are not true or are misrepresentations of the truth.
These exaggerated headlines seriously undermine the importance of health and safety regulations. After all, the basic principles of the Health and Safety at Work Act, is to ensure the health, safety and welfare of people at work. It is not to impose another ‘red tape’ or hurdle for the employer to cross.
On farms it is becoming pressingly more important for health and safety controls to be seen as a necessity and not just a barrier to production. In fact, there have recently been two major cases involving farming businesses that emphasize the substantial and detrimental effects accidents can have.
A dairy farm has been fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,879 after a farm employee was left permanently blind. The employee was cleaning the walls using DM Cid (a corrosive disinfectant) when the pump sprayer unexpectedly developed a fault and ruptured in his face.
In another case, a farming partnership was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,690 after an ex-employee (living in a farm cottage opposite), was run over by a JCB telescopic loader. The loader was carrying three bales on the front, and the driver could not see him. Another employee was being carried on the step of the vehicle and although he was unharmed, this was another health and safety risk.
These cases have resulted in massive financial costs and even bigger human costs!
Unfortunately, I believe both of these accidents could happen at any time on almost any farm. And – both could have been prevented!
As farmers, the job involves working with a range of hazards (including chemicals, machinery and equipment) every day. Despite this, health and safety is still not seen as a crucial aspect of the farm business. This is clearly reflected in the statistics that show the rate of fatal injuries in agriculture is 18 times higher than the all industry rate.
Are you confident that you and your employees are safe on your farm?
I must admit, I do understand why health and safety isn’t always at the forefront of a farmer’s mind. There are so many other things to consider – time, money, resources, weather (to name a few) – and in the moment these concerns can consume us. However, sometimes we need to take a step back to consider the real priority – safety! In the case of an accident, all those other concerns will be so unimportant and insignificant.
Making health and safety a priority really is a ‘no-brainer’. For health and safety guidance and advice, contact Cari at firstname.lastname@example.org