HSE encourages farmers to manage the risks of building maintenance well as it launches latest inspection initiative

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is reminding farmers to take simple steps to avoid, or manage, risk when carrying out building maintenance as it launches its latest inspection initiative.HSE logo

HSE inspectors will be visiting farms across the country this month to ensure risks during building maintenance, such as falling from a roof or ladder are being controlled and measures are in place to protect farmers, their workers and contractors.

Carrying out building maintenance and repair on farms can create a number of risks including falls from height and exposure to dangerous asbestos fibres. The initiative comes after the latest HSE statistics show that in 2016/17 there have been 27 deaths and 13,000 non-fatal injuries to workers in Great Britain’s agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors.

Falls are the second highest cause of death on British farms – every year at least eight people die falling from a height. Those who survive suffer broken bones and life changing consequences. Falls often happen from roofs, lofts, ladders, vehicles, bale stacks, and unsuitable access equipment, such as buckets or potato boxes.

Farmers are reminded of the range of free HSE guidance on the simple things to do when working up high. Often it is best to bring in a contractor who will have the right equipment and skills to do the job.

Breathing in asbestos continues to kill many people every year. It’s dangerous to drill or cut and everyone working on the farm needs to know where it is and how to avoid breathing in the harmful fibres. HSE has lots of helpful information to help you work out how to control the risk.

Throughout the inspection initiative, inspectors will be checking how the risk of falling from height is being controlled during building maintenance including; 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 asbestos is labelled or marked, that workers and contractors are aware of where the asbestos is located and how the removal of asbestos is planned, organised with a safe method of disposal.

Head of HSE’s Agriculture Sector Rick Brunt said:

“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.”