HSE Announced Farm Safety visits for Autumn 2023 and 2024

Posted on 13 Nov 2023
HSE Announced Farm Safety visits for Autumn 2023 and 2024

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced that they will be visiting farms across Great Britain throughout Winter 2023 and into Spring 2024, with inspections focusing on the main causes of death and serious injury in farming, including falls from height.

Other high risk activities which resulted in fatalities or serious injuries include working with cattle, moving vehicles and machinery, struck by an object.

Inspections will focus on farms within the South Wales, East Anglia, North West, South West and East Midland regions.

HSE fatality statistics for year April 22/March 23 showed an increase in fatalities across all industry sectors with ‘Falls from Height’ continuing to be the number one cause of a fatal injury. The increase was up 38% from the previous year.

There are a number of work at height tasks that occur on farm - such as working off ladders, working on silage clamps and maize clamps to sheet up and pull the sheet back, working off vehicles and feeder wagons.

The Legislation does not set a particular distance off the ground to class it as 'work at height' - so therefore; whether working off a ladder, accessing machinery or clamps or buildings at height, where you have no protection from preventing you falling and hurting yourself - this all needs planning and risk assessing on how to do it safely.

Also remember you don't have to fall particularly far to receive an injury, especially if you fall awkwardly or onto something below and remember that work at height can often injure third parties in the vicinity from items or equipment falling onto them from height.

Sadly, there are many documented accidents and serious injuries, some of which end up in court, where farmers have fallen from silage clamps onto hard floors below.

See this article recorded in the IOSH magazine from a few years ago.

For more safety information - see the September Newsletter on Working Safely around Silage clamps which covers work at height and other aspects of working safely around clamps.

For general Work at Height advice on farms including working from ladders - see November's Safety Note.

Don’t forget when accessing machinery to carry out repairs or deal with blockages, or swap and change parts - this still is classed as Work at Height.

HSE says for working with machinery:-

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions/procedures, e.g. as set out in the operator's manual.
  • Use built-in ladders and other purpose-designed access points and platforms where provided. Where such facilities don't exist you will need to consider alternative safe means of access, e.g. with measures provided to prevent falls.
  • When the job is finished, always replace the guards before running the machine.
  • Check the machine over and make sure that people are well clear before restarting.

The Key take home statement for Work at Height is this:-

Remember - it may take a few moments to assess and plan your task, but recovering from a fall may take months, years or even the rest of your life.


Safety signage

Silage clamp safety