Last summer we reported on HSE’s reportable accident statistics for 2017/18 and looked at the data for accidents within the agriculture sector which shows a high level of accidents, including fatal accidents, particularly amongst self-employed workers.

HSE have now announced that they have commenced a programme of proactive inspections of farms targeting the effective management health and safety risks amongst workers. This country wide initiative is part of HSE’s Agriculture Sector Intervention Strategy. First published in 2017, this recognises that the agricultural sector has a poor recording of managing health and safety risks and sets out HSE’s plan to drive improvements over the next 3-5 years. This plan highlights the important role of proactive inspections as one of a number of measures to be used to drive awareness and improve compliance within the agriculture industry. Other measures include promotional campaigns, educational events and partnership work with other stakeholders such as training bodies and farming industry safety partnership organisations.

HSE publishes useful guidance that all dutyholders in the industry would be well advised to consider and in promoting this inspection campaign HSE are referring dutyholders to their “What a good farm looks like” guidance . This highlights common risks to health and safety on farms and may well assist dutyholders in identifying the activities and risks which HSE may be particularly interested in during this inspection campaign. The guidance covers a wide range of issues including vehicles and machinery, falls from height and falling objects, children, overhead power lines and electrical systems, cattle, drowning and asphyxiation (including control of risks from slurry storage systems and silos), asbestos, manual handling, occupational diseases including chest and lung conditions, noise, pesticides and the safe use of chainsaws.

HSE will no doubt be looking closely to see whether these inspections and their intervention strategy generally are assisting to reduce accident rates within the industry.