Health & Safety On The Farmyard: The Dangers & How To Avoid Them

Health Safety Farmyard

The Farming industry is no longer a booming sector that guarantees jobs, not in like days gone by. In fact only 1.8% of the workforce in Britain is considered to be part of this sector. Despite this though the accident rate makes up about 19% of accidents in the UK every year.

The rate of illness is also significantly higher in the Farming sector than the average from other workspaces. There are four common injuries and illnesses associated with this sector; vehicular, falls from height, heavy lifting and handling and hazardous substances.

Many Farmyards in the UK do adhere to strict Health & Safety codes and practices, however with working in such a manual and practical based business comes a heightened level of risk.

In this blog we will identify the most common dangers and some you’ve probably never even thought of to try and ensure that your farmyard can be as safe as possible.

Risk Assessments

First things first you need to be proactive in your approach to Health and Safety on the farm. Nearly all accidents can be prevented if the risks and how to avoid them are clearly outlined. But being realistic it’s quite hard to imagine all accidents will be eradicated, we’re all human and these things do happen.

Completing a risk assessment enables you to identify which areas of the business are posing the biggest safety risks to the workers on the farm. If you’re unsure on how to complete a risk assessment, there are many great companies that run courses outlining the best ways to complete these assessments. But once these are complete you will be able to outline proactive procedures to try to avoid similar accidents in the future.

Risk Assessment Process Diagram
Risk Assessment Process Diagram (credits: ready.gov)

The law requires any employer or self-employed party to regulate their own health and safety risks and whilst you’re not expected to completely eliminate risk, there should be at least realistic steps to attempt to stop it happening however.

Working in Confined Spaces

Because of the nature of farming, you or your employees will be required to split time between indoor and outdoor spaces. The typical confined spaces include fuel storage tanks, silos and slurry pits, and these can present a range of hazards. Drowning, suffocation and toxic gas inhalation all sound shocking but they are very real dangers. In order to avoid accidents and even death, you must ensure all workers:

  • Are completing work outside the space whenever possible.
  • Are entering confined areas only if it is safe to do so and when absolutely necessary and only if the area is fully ventilated.
  • Are fully assessed to the risks of the environment and can decide on any necessary precautions when doing so.
  • Are sure that slurry tanks, pits and sumps are given adequate room to be ventilated.

Working with Hazardous Chemicals

In order to manage the risks associated with hazardous chemicals, you should ensure you and your workers are using the least toxic chemicals available. But if this isn’t possible, you should consider placing control methods.

  • Ensure lids are places on all bins and storage receptacles.
  • Keep all transfer points and conveyers enclosed.
  • Install dust extractor fans.
  • Ensure all employees have access to protective clothing and equipment.
  • If exposed skin comes into contact with skin, keep it moisturised and dry.

Some dusts, like grain and poultry can cause asthmas and respiration problems. All of your workers should take regular health and fitness checks.

Livestock

feeding cattle
Cattle being fed. The handlers are safely handling the cows without too much proximity.

Handling livestock is of course a major part of farm life and is a huge source of injury. Your risk assessment should not only cover you and your employees, but it should also cover animal health professionals like vets and of course the animals themselves. You should have proper restraining and handling equipment already to hand to minimise risk when working with the livestock.

All farm employees should all be correctly trained in the handling and moving of the animals. Equipment such as pig boards, paddles or flat slap sticks, should be maintained to avoid sharp edges to avoid harming the animals. How to handle specific types of livestock can be found here.

Following these basic tips and guidelines will help avoid unnecessary accidents and injuries. As previously mentioned it is impossible to cut out all accidents in a high risk environment, human error will always be a factor.

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