Farm Health & Safety

  • Health & Safety
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll discuss farm Health & Safety, relevant legislation, and ways Peninsula can help improve safety on your farm.

Working in agriculture can be dangerous. Without the appropriate procedures in place, your employees or visitors could be seriously injured.

That's why maintaining Health & Safety on your farm is an essential part of running your business.

Failure to comply with the relevant Health & Safety law could result in worker deaths. As a result, you might face legal and financial proceedings.

In this guide, we'll discuss farm Health & Safety, relevant legislation, and ways Peninsula can help improve safety on your farm.

Why is farm safety important?

The agriculture industry has more staff killed at work each year, compared to the national average of other industries - which is why farm safety is so important. 

Without farm safety, accidents and fatal injuries are more likely to occur. This means your workforce could be affected, as well as any visitors or passersby. 

Not to mention, you could be investigated by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) - which might open you up to financial and reputational damage.

What are the Health & Safety risks of farms?

Several Health & Safety risks can occur within the farming community. As an employer, you must be aware of them, so you can consider how to protect your farmers and prevent injury from occurring.

Risks on a farm typically include:

  • Livestock handling: Working with cattle involves a risk of injury from the animals kicking, butting, or crushing.
  • Slurry: Slurry gas includes methane and carbon monoxide - all of which can create adverse health effects.
  • Large machinery, vehicles and other equipment: If a collision occurs with a tractor, it can cause significant injury because the wheels are larger and heavier than standard wheels.
  • Tree work: Staff will have to work from a height to fell trees, which could mean they are at risk of falling.

It's also important to consider the risk children and other family members who live on the farm pose. For instance, small children may not be aware of the hazards present on a farm and fail to protect themselves.

What are the main Health & Safety regulations farms must comply with?

You must comply with several Health & Safety regulations when running a farm, such as the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

Let's explore this piece of legislation, and other relevant laws in more detail:

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974

According to The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, you must provide adequate training to staff to ensure they comply with workplace safety.

The Act also outlines that you must provide a safe working environment, where all operations are conducted safely. As well as the safe storage of any dangerous substances, this comes under COSHH

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Meanwhile, the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 asks employers to identify risks in the workplace that affect:

  • Employees.
  • Contractors.
  • Members of the public.

To do so, they must perform a risk assessment of the farm; identify areas for improvement, and implement safety measures that reduce or remove the risk of harm.

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR)

RIDDOR requires employers to report and record accidents that occur within the workplace. According to the regulations, every incident at work must be recorded in an accident book.

Whereas, incidents that cause serious injuries, or fatalities, must be reported to the HSE.

How can you be safe on a farm?

There are several steps you can take to ensure safety on your farm. For example, you could join the Farm Safety Partnership - a collaboration of organisations which aims to promote safe systems of work. These groups work together to advise farm businesses on how best to stay safe at work.

Other steps you can take include:

  • Complete a risk assessment: As an employer, you are legally required to carry out risk assessments of your workplace - including if you work on a farm. This will help you assess ways your staff and visitors could be harmed in your workplace, so you can implement measures to protect them.
  • Introduce control measures: What control measures you need depends on the risks you identify in your assessment. For example, you might find that workers are likely to be injured in a certain area. So, a control measure would be making staff wear extra PPE when working in this area. 
  • Implement a Health & Safety policy: The law requires you to implement a Health & Safety policy. This should be written down if you have five employees or more. Put simply, the policy outlines your commitment to Health & Safety - and how you will uphold this. Peninsula offers a full documentation service to ensure compliance.

What safety measures can you take on a farm?

You'll need to implement several safety measures on your farm to protect workers. Which ones you implement will depend on the hazards present in your workplace.

For example, measures might include:

  • Update machinery regularly: Faulty machinery can contribute to worker injury and even death. So, ensure yours is maintained and that you check it meets the requirements as often as necessary. And if it's old, replace it.
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE): HSE requires employers to provide PPE where there is a risk to Health & Safety. When farming, the risk of harm is high, so make sure you provide adequate on-the-job protection.
  • Organise Health & Safety training: You are required to provide Health & Safety training by law. If your staff have good knowledge of Health & Safety issues, they're more likely to know how to prevent accidents from occurring, or how to respond should one happen.


What counts as an agricultural worker?

An agricultural worker is someone who works in farming and rearing animals. It also includes those who work in:

  • Growing produce like non-edible crops, such as bulbs.
  • Forestry, market gardens and nurseries.
  • Maintaining meadow or pasture land, woodlands and reed beds.

But this list isn't limited, as it depends on the person and situation. For more information, call the Acas helpline.

What is the pay of an agricultural worker?

Agricultural workers must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage. If you fail to pay them correctly, they could raise a claim to an employment tribunal.

If their claim is successful, you might be required to pay compensation to them.

What happens when the Health & Safety Executive visits your farm?

When the HSE visits your farm, they'll be looking at the measures you take to keep your employees and visitors of your farm safe. This includes ways you prevent injury from occurring.

Remember, the HSE can visit any reasonable time and they don't have to provide any notice.

How Peninsula can help you with your farm Health & Safety

There's more to your company than dealing with paperwork and employment law. Without a dedicated team to manage your Health & Safety, it could get in the way of growing your farm business.

Luckily, Peninsula can help. We help you manage common issues in agriculture, such as:

  • Ensuring workers receive minimum wage.
  • Ensuring equipment is safe to use.
  • Understanding both agricultural laws and general employment law.
  • Dealing with staff shortages.
  • Managing your workers' overtime.
  • Employing foreign workers. 

Not to mention, if you're dealing with redundancies or employment tribunals, we can advise you where necessary. You can even access our 24/7 helpline - where a qualified consultant can offer you support.

That’s not all, Peninsula even offers a full risk assessment service -taking the hassle out of your Health & Safety. A qualified expert will attend your workplace at a time that suits you. 

They’ll identify hazards in your workplace, and advise you on the measures you need to take to keep staff safe. Contact us today with your agriculture HR and Health & Safety needs.

Get expert advice on farm Health & Safety from Peninsula

It's vital you prioritise Health & Safety when running your farm business.

This means performing a risk assessment, implementing safety measures, and providing training to farm workers. It's your legal duty, but also your moral responsibility. By choosing to farm safer, you could save lives.

Failure to do so could have severe consequences for your business. For example, one of your employees might become injured - or worse, fatal injuries could occur. As a result, your business could face financial loss, legal proceedings, and reputational damage.

Our teams offer expert advice on farm Health & Safety. We provide 24/7 Health & Safety advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our Health & Safety experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with a Health & Safety consultant today.

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