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News & Updates

Why has agriculture got the worst rate of worker fatality in the UK?

Recent figures show that over the last 12 months there has been close to a 100% increase in deaths in the farming industry due to workplace incidents (interestingly, this follows an all time low number in 2019-20) – 18 times higher than the average rate across all other industries, and this is unacceptable. 

Farmers and those associated with their operations are one of the keystones to this country and should finish work as safe and as healthy as they started. There are so many potential dangers on a farm (the majority of these deaths involved workplace transport, machinery, falls from height and handling livestock), but simple safety measures put in place can help drastically reduce the risk.

Tim Fenner, our Compliance Advisor, has covered off some of the key points below…

PUWER Assessment – the right tool for the job

As the adage goes, ‘Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.’ The same principle applies in the workplace. You wouldn’t use a tool or equipment that is not designed for the task in question. Or at least you shouldn’t.
 
This is where PUWER assessments come in. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 requires that equipment provided for use at work is suitable for the intended use, safe for use, maintained and inspected regularly, and accompanied by suitable health and safety measures such as protective devices and controls.
 
The assessments will look at the overall condition of the machinery and equipment. Is the right guarding in place? Are the isolation and emergency control measures sufficient? Are there enough warning labels? Even maintenance and inspection records will be pored over to ensure that you’re compliant.
 
When you engage SK Compliance to do your PUWER assessments, you will receive a report providing a risk assessment and appropriate action plan – leaving you with clear instruction on your next steps to compliance and safety. #farmsafety

Asbestos – Old McDonald had asbestosis, E-I-E-I-O

And on that farm, he had some sheds,
E-I-E-I-O
With a broken roof here,
And a broken wall there,
With a cough, cough here,
And a cough, cough there,
Old McDonald had asbestosis,
E-I-E-I-O
 
Forgive me. I’ve never been much of a lyricist.
 
I’m confident at some point we have all seen the corrugated cement sheet roofing or cladding on a barn or shed in a farmer’s field – it is one of the key indicators that lets you know you’re in the countryside. That and a freshly manured field.
 
Sadly, that roofing, or cladding tends to be in poor condition and the kicker is, it normally contains asbestos. 
 
Why Asbestos? It was cheap, widely available, easy to erect, and incredibly durable – what’s not to love? This love for asbestos now has left a legacy in the agricultural industry that will be hard to shake. It is not only the roofing and cladding, but asbestos can also be found in the electrics, old machinery, old gaskets, brake shoes, insulation to cladding, etc. the list really does go on. 
 
Farmers are up there with the hardest working individuals on the planet. Up at the crack of dawn, working until sunset, it quickly becomes obvious that there are often more immediate matters than the bits of roof that have fallen in, or the telehandler that damaged the barn wall last week. Even so, all farms should have an asbestos management survey and asbestos management plan in place as a minimum stated in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
 
Proper management of asbestos saves lives, E-I-E-I-O. #farmsafety

Legionella – drilling holes is boring

I’ve had the privilege of visiting many sites over the years to do legionella risk assessments and the same type of sites always stand out to me.
 
Farms.
 
Farms’ water systems are always constructed by necessity. You can see the initial water system in situ and the further you explore, you begin to see the additions, adaptations, and in some cases complete bypass of some systems – and if there is one thing I have learned of the years, it is this:
 
Farmers love a good borehole.
 
And why wouldn’t you? It’s natural, often easy to set up and seemingly free. There is often a cost however – Legionella. Legionella is a naturally occurring bacteria and can easily colonise borehole systems, just like it can domestic water systems. When that water starts being aerosolised is when the issues can begin. Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia, that shares similarities in symptoms to illnesses like COVID-19, the common cold, the flu, etc.
 
With farms often consisting of numerous water assets, including irrigators, boreholes, sprayers, jet washes, etc. there is an increased risk of Legionella being given the opportunity to get into and out of your water system into people’s precious lungs.
 
Be #farmsafe, get your water in order. Start with a Legionella risk assessment today.

SK Compliance can help with all of the above, as well as DSEAR Assessments, Racking Inspections, Electrical Safety Checks, Workplace Exposure Monitoring, Occupational Health Monitoring and so much more, so contact them today on 01427 420 404 or compliance@skaltd.co.ukand #oneoftheteam will be happy to help


What about PPE?

PPE is defined as “all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects the person against one or more risks to that person’s health or safety, and any addition or accessory designed to meet that objective.”

Currently, the PPE regulations (Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992) apply to employees (limb (a) workers), but a consultation to review the regulations started this week, with the main focus being on employers providing the same PPE to independent contractors (limb (b) workers).

The consultation does not, however, include the following PPE, which are covered by other legislations:

You can find out more about the consultation here.

If you’d like to find out more about keeping your workers safe, contact our Health & Safety team on 01427 420 402 or email healthandsafety@skaltd.co.uk and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help


What about training?

A major factor in keeping farm workers safe is ensuring they have had adequate training to perform the tasks they have been allocated.

Our training team can help with the majority of courses that farmers need, to cover, such as: 

  • Chainsaws
  • Pesticide Spraying
  • Working at Height
  • Manual Handling
  • First Aid
  • IOSH Working Safely
  • IOSH Managing Safely
  • Fire Safety

…and so much more.

Many courses can be delivered throughout the UK and in a variety of ways, either at a training location, at your premises or virtually.

To find out more about how SK Training can help you, visit the website, or to discuss your training requirements call 01427 420 405 or email training@skaltd.co.uk and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help.


Watch Yellow Wellies’ short film for Farm Safety Week

You can find out more about farm safety at yellowellies.org