Health and Safety farm inspections will focus on reducing falls from height

Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of deaths on farms, says the Health and Safety Execu

Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of deaths on farms, says the Health and Safety Executive. Picture: Ian Burt

Safety inspectors will be visiting East Anglian farms during the next month to ensure all necessary measures are in place to prevent falls from height.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says 27 people were killed on farms in 2016-17, and estimates 13,000 people in Britain's agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors suffered non-fatal injuries during the same period.

Its latest national inspection initiative aims to reduce risks during building maintenance and ensure measures are in place to protect farmers, workers and contractors.

The HSE says at least eight people die every year on British farms after falling from roofs, lofts, ladders, vehicles, bale stacks, and unsuitable access equipment, such as buckets or potato boxes.

Inspectors will be checking whether work at height can be avoided, if the right equipment is being used and is in the appropriate condition, if a specialist contractor has been used for high-risk tasks, if there are signs to warn people of fragile roofs and whether the work is being carried out by workers with the right training and skills.

They will also be assessing how exposure to deadly asbestos is being prevented, including whether there is an up-to-date plan showing where asbestos is present on a farm, whether it is labelled or marked, and how its removal and safe disposal is planned.

Rick Brunt, head of HSE's agriculture sector, said: 'Across the country we know that plenty of farmers routinely use the right kit and do building maintenance and repair safely.

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'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.'

For health and safety advice for farms, see the Health and Safety Executive website.