New farming attitudes needed for new year, says HSE

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Farmers in Scotland are being told they must pay closer attention to how they manage workplace risk or face serious penalties.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) programme of inspections will review health and safety standards on farms across the country, and the industry is being reminded that the inspections will soon begin.

The inspections will ensure those responsible for protecting themselves and workers are doing the right things to comply with the law and prevent death, injury and ill-health. If they are not, HSE says it will not hesitate to use enforcement to bring about improvements.

Throughout the inspection initiative, inspectors will be checking that risks are being controlled in specific areas including: machinery, falls from height, children and livestock.

The announcement follows a series of compliance events that were developed as a result of research into farmers’ attitudes to risk and are aimed at changing behaviour in the industry.

Farmers were given the opportunity to attend one of these events, paid for by HSE, to help them comply with the law and prepare for its inspections. HSE is now following up to make sure all farms are doing the right thing.

Agriculture has the poorest record of any industry in Britain and latest figures show that 33 people were killed in agriculture across Britain in 2017/18 – around 18 times higher than the all industry fatal injury rate.

HSE’s head of agriculture, Rick Brunt, 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.

‘Everyone involved in farming has a role to play. Those working in the industry need to understand the risks they face and the simple ways they can be managed. Those that work with the industry can be part of the change that is so badly needed.

‘Farmers, managers and workers are reminded that death, injuries and cases of ill-health are not an inevitable part of farming.’

HSE has a range of resources and guides available to help employers and employees improve health and safety on farms.