Don’t Fall Down on the Farm!

In our News Roundup article last week, we reported on a new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) initiative which will involve health and safety inspectors visiting farms across Britain over the next month to ensure that there are measures in place to prevent falls from height.  According to the HSE, falls are the second most common cause of death on UK farms, accounting for at least 8 fatalities each year.  It’s a well-known fact that raising awareness of falls from height has had a beneficial effect and led to a decrease in incidents involving falls when working at height.  Today, we’re going to take a closer look at this issue and do our part in helping to make Britain a safer place in which to work.

According to HSE, 27 people were killed on farms in 2016-17 and a massive 13,000 people in our agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors suffered non-fatal injuries during the same time period.  When it comes to falls from height, those who do survive the fall usually suffer from broken bones and meet life-changing consequences as a result of the incident.  Falls often happen from roofs, lofts, ladders, bale stack, vehicles and unsuitable access equipment, such as buckets or potato boxes.  Here at Safety Fabrications, we take pride in offering safe access solutions for all types of situations, including bespoke solutions that are specifically tailored to the work at hand.

Agricultural work on Britain’s farms carries an above average risk of falling accidents.  Farming, forestry and horticulture employs around 1% of the national workforce, but accounts for more than 13% of fatal falls here in the UK.  This means that decreasing the incidence of falls is a must to make farming and agriculture a safer industry in which to work. 

You don’t even need to be particularly high up to suffer a serious fall – recent case histories include at least one fatality and numerous injuries due to falls from 2 metres or less.  The long list of potential risk situations includes climbing onto machines to carry out repair and standing on a step ladder to check the fuel levels in diesel storage tanks!  Falls from vehicles and agricultural machinery are common and there are also cases involving falling from ground level into a hole and sustaining serious injuries.  Key areas where most falls occur are as follows:

  • Carrying passengers in unsafe positions – only carry another person if a proper passenger seat is fitted, never on drawbars or loaded trailers.
  • Falls from vehicles during loading/unloading or doing maintenance work – work should be planned to avoid climbing onto trailers if possible.  However, it’s also necessary to ensure that the work area is clear of trip hazards.

The HSE’s website provides a range of free safety guidance on the simple things to do when working at height and advises that planning and a risk assessment should be an essential part of preparation for any job that involves working at height – a legal obligation under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR2005).  These legal obligations apply to employers, employees and the self-employed and failure to take all necessary measures to reduce the risks involved can result in heavy fines.