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HSE launches two-month farm inspection campaign

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will be launching a campaign of targeted inspections of agricultural sites.

HSE launches two-month farm inspection campaign
Image credit: © iStock/ valio84sl

Inspectors will focus on issues including machinery, falls from height, child safety and risk posed by livestock. 

In October and November 2018, the HSE ran a series of agriculture compliance events in South West and Eastern England, Wales and Scotland, which focused on the practical steps that farms can take to ensure compliance ahead of the inspection visits. 

The events were developed as a result of research into farmers’ attitudes to risk and were aimed at changing industry behaviours.

The HSE field operations directorate is planning to carry out 100 visits to farms in each of the four regions between January and March, which will cover 10% of the farms that attended the events and 10% that declined or did not respond to the invitation.

The HSE’s latest statistics on fatal injuries reveal that agriculture has the poorest safety record of any industry in Great Britain. There were 33 deaths in 2017/18, which is around 18 times higher than the all industry fatal injury rate.

Eight deaths were caused by a person being fatally injured by an animal. The next main cause of death was being struck by a moving vehicle (6), followed by being trapped by something collapsing (5), being struck by an object (4) and falls from height (3).

Rick Brunt, HSE’s head of agriculture, said: “We are seeing signs of a change in attitude across the farming industry and while this is encouraging, these inspections act as a reminder to farmers of the importance of managing risks so that everyone can go home from their work healthy.” 


Nick Warburton is deputy editor of IOSH Magazine 


Being part of a farming family I greatly support this campaign. However, I consider a significant problem is the means of engaging with farmers requires new ideas: using the Internet as a means of reaching famers who are obviously in very rural areas is a none starter due to the lack of Internet coverage.

Geoff Hegarty makes a good point about the difficulty of engaging with farmers via the internet. Download speeds are often slow and in some rural areas non-existent! However, there is a wider problem of HOW we communicate with farmers and farm workers, to encourage and enable them to make changes and improve the culture. IOSH Rural Industries Group is planning a Workshop on behalf of the Farm Safety Partnership on 1st May intended to share the latest research by HSE and others, to help us all be more effective 'influencers'. Look out for further details soon.

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