The Health and Safety Initiative (HSE) has launched a new inspection initiative geared towards ensuring that farmers are effectively managing the risks associated with building maintenance on their sites.

The body said that simple steps could be taken to avoid or manage such risks when building maintenance takes place.

It added that its inspectors would be visiting farms across the country during January to ensure measures were in place to protect farmers, their workers and contractors.


What are the risks to those maintaining farm buildings?

Various risks can be presented by building maintenance and repair, such as falling from height or coming into contact with dangerous asbestos fibres. According to HSE, the 2016/17 period saw 27 deaths and 13,000 non-fatal injuries to workers in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors in Great Britain.

Each year, at least eight people die due to falling from height on a British farm, which makes it the second highest cause of death in such a setting. Falls frequently occur from roofs, lofts, ladders, bale stacks, vehicles and unsuitable access equipment such as potato boxes or buckets, while even those who survive often suffer broken bones and life-changing consequences.

Many deaths a year are also attributable to the inhalation of asbestos fibres, with the banned substance being dangerous to drill or cut. This makes it crucial for everyone working on a farm to be aware of where asbestos is present and how they can avoid breathing in the harmful fibres.


What is HSE doing to assist farmers?

HSE has reminded farmers that it can provide them with a range of free guidance on the simple things to do when working from height. The body said it was often best to enlist the services of a contractor with the right equipment and skills to do the job.

Meanwhile, the inspection initiative will focus on the range of ways in which farmers may or may not be adequately controlling the risks of falling from height during building maintenance. They will check whether work at height can be avoided, the right equipment is being used, such equipment is in appropriate condition and a specialist contractor has been used for high-risk tasks.

Of particular interest to our own professionals undertaking asbestos surveys across London and the wider UK is HSE’s pledge to assess how exposure to asbestos is being prevented, including whether there is an up-to-date plan making clear the location of any asbestos on the farm, as well as whether the asbestos is labelled or marked and how the removal of the deadly fibres is planned.


“Still one of the main causes of death and injury”

Head of HSE’s Agriculture Sector Rick Blunt commented: “Across the country we know that plenty of farmers routinely use the right kit and do building maintenance and repair safely. Despite this, falls from height are still one of the main causes of death and injury on Britain’s farms, and each year too many farmers are working with asbestos and breathing in dangerous fibres.

“HSE is calling on anyone involved in building maintenance and repair work on farms to use the free guidance from our website to make sure they comply with the law and do the job safely.

“This inspection initiative is about making sure that farmers and workers doing building maintenance and repair stay safe and go home healthy from their work.”

Give yourself greater peace of mind by calling Salvum on 0343 886 5999 about our asbestos surveys in London or elsewhere in the UK.

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