Farmers killed at work
Fatal accidents in agriculture continue to devastate families and businesses. Recent press coverage has highlighted awful farming tragedies that have occurred this year including the death of a child. HSE is working closely with the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) to publicise key messages and to prevent further heartbreak. The stark reality is that each one of these deaths could have been prevented with simple well known precautions. Tragically there is nothing new about the way that people are killed on Britain’s farms. Following existing guidance would dramatically reduce this needless death toll. Management of risk on farms has to improve. Take time out now to consider how you can effectively manage the risks to protect yourself, your employees and family at this busy time.
Many deaths and serious accidents happen during maintenance work. Don’t be tempted to make do or take short cuts for example when working under vehicles or equipment. It’s simply not worth taking the chance. Make sure your tractors, trailers and other farm machines are properly maintained and used safely. Before bringing equipment back into use check to see if brakes are working effectively and if any guards are missing, or damaged. Replace them. Check hitching and attachment points are in good condition, and not excessively worn. Whenever carrying out machinery maintenance always follow the safe stop procedure. Don’t carry out work whilst machinery is running.
Farm vehicles and children
Sadly, tractor and machinery overturns and being run over by a farm vehicle continue to be significant causes of death and serious injury to farmers. All drivers should be trained and competent and the yard and traffic routes provided with mirrors, barriers and signage to reduce blind spots and keep people and vehicles separated. And don’t forget to include arrangements for contractors and delivery vehicles. Take action now to exclude children from the workplace. Always remember that children must have a safe play area away from farm activity, which is secure and prevents them from straying into hazardous areas.
Prosecution: A self-employed farm worker has been imprisoned after running over and killing a young boy with his tractor. See: Tractor driver imprisoned for running over and killing a child.
Health risks during lambing and avoiding human infection
Help workers understand health risks associated with close contact with animals and help them take appropriate precautions. There are particular risks to women who may be pregnant and come into close contact with sheep during lambing, risking their own health and that of their unborn child.
These risks are not only associated with sheep, nor confined only to the spring (when the majority of lambs are born). Cattle and goats that have recently given birth can also carry similar infections. All farm animals naturally carry a range of diseases, some of which can also affect humans. These diseases are known as zoonoses, and if you work with animals your health may be at risk.
Visitor attractions/open farms
If you have open days or have a visitor attraction thoroughly review your arrangements in readiness for the new season and Easter holidays, pay particular attention to the hand washing facilities.
Cattle and rights of way
Use of footpaths and bridleways by visitors is increasing now days are longer and warmer. Always consider and assess the nature of cattle in fields with footpaths e.g. where possible locate cows with young calves in fields with no public access. Good herd management is vital to keep people safe: Animals known to be aggressive should be removed from the herd and regular field visits and checks can identify agitated animals or highlight issues that could lead to problems e.g. damaged fencing. Follow the FSP guidance on are you handling your cattle safely?
Prosecution: A farmer has been given a prison sentence after one person was killed and another seriously injured when attacked by cows grazing in a field crossed by a footpath. Man killed and another seriously injured by cows
Slurry gas kills
Slurry gas, generated when slurry is disturbed e.g. whilst stirred before being pumped into tankers or spreaders, is highly toxic, heavier than air and regularly kills farmers and people trying to save them. In addition farmers and children drown when covers collapse or edges of pits and stores are not protected by fencing or barriers.
Source – HSE
Contact HSCS Scotland for all your agricultural safety needs