UK Farmers are being urged to make sure their health and safety policies are up to scratch in preparation for a programme of targeted farm inspections by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which commenced at the start of 2019. If Farmers are found to be in breach of these health and safety regulations, HSE will use enforcement powers to penalise offenders and bring about the required improvements. The average fine a Farmer faces from the HSE is £19,000.
Agriculture has the poorest health and safety record of any industry in Britain. Although the sector only represents 1.2% of the British workforce, it accounts for 20% of reported work-related deaths each year. According to the HSE, 33 people were killed in farm accidents in Great Britain in 2017-18 and a further 11 deaths were recorded in Northern Ireland.
The HSE inspections are designed to ensure that Farmers responsible for protecting themselves and their workers are complying with the law – to help prevent workplace ill-health, injury and even death. They provide clear guidance for best practice of how a farm should be maintained to insure that it is managed safely – and lawfully. HSE are promoting this to duty holders through their “What a good farm looks like” advice guide.
Keeping Pace with Change
The fast paced technological advances in farming must be matched by regular, structured maintenance and inspections of core machinery in order to comply with HSE guidelines.
Farming machinery and equipment is now more complex than ever before. It is common place to see precision field mapping systems, or satellite data fed directly to fertiliser spinners when working on Farms.
With this, machinery manufacturers have developed advanced telematics systems which indicate and alert users when a machine is due for its service.
These new innovations are welcome, but unfortunately there are certain aspects of machinery maintenance that cannot be notified on a vehicle dash. This is certainly true when discussing PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) and LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998) inspections.
Puwer in Brief
These regulations place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over work equipment. PUWER requires that equipment provided for use at work is:
- Suitable for the intended use
- Safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and inspected to ensure it is correctly installed and does not subsequently deteriorate
- Used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training
- Accompanied by suitable health and safety measures, such as protective devices and controls. These will normally include emergency stop devices, adequate means of isolation from sources of energy, clearly visible markings and warning devices
- Used in accordance with specific requirements, for mobile work equipment and power presses
Loler in Brief
Some work equipment is subject to other health and safety legislation in addition to PUWER. For example, lifting equipment must also meet the requirements of LOLER. In agriculture, this covers a wide range of equipment including:
- Tractor foreloaders, fork-lift trucks and telescopic handlers (telehandlers);
- Workshop hoists and rope hoists;
- Cranes on machines (eg on lorries or fertiliser spreaders)
- Lifting attachments and accessories.
The Importance of Puwer and Loler Inspections
Richard Wade, Risk Manager at Lycetts Risk Management , explains that the PUWER and LOLER inspection can only be undertaken by an inspector with the relevant engineering qualification.
“When we inspect machines, we are not only looking for issues that might compromise its operating performance or potentially lead to dangerous situations, but we are also creating a comprehensive service history of the machine which can be beneficial for a number of reasons.”
Richard continues, “You would never buy a second-hand car without first looking at its service history. When you’re ready to upgrade your telehandler, your engineering certificates will provide all the information for potential buyers that you have maintained the machine, that it is in good, safe working order, and suitable for further use.”
By having PUWER and LOLER inspections on your machinery and equipment, you are complying with HSE Regulations, which are legal requirements.
Richard concludes, “HSE will investigate incidents. Prosecution and fines will follow very swiftly if you are found at fault or negligent. It is our job to make sure this doesn’t happen.
“Most importantly, the inspections offer you the peace of mind that you are doing everything in your power to ensure the safety of yourself, your staff and those people around you.”
Stay Safe, Stay Legal
The proactive inspection of farms targeting the effective management of health and safety risks is a country wide initiative as part of HSE’s Agriculture Sector Intervention Strategy.
These unannounced HSE inspections will focus on potential high-risk issues including machinery, falls from height, child safety and threats posed by livestock. Farmers have been forewarned so they can be forearmed – inspections could take place when they least expect – even during busy periods of activity such as harvest or lambing.
By keeping machinery fully maintained and regularly inspected, farmers will ensure that their farm is not exposed and vulnerable to a business critical inspection.
To check if your machinery and equipment requires a PUWER or LOLER inspection, contact the Risk Management team on 0191 2321151.