Reducing the Risks of Lone Working

It’s vital that employers, farm managers and long serving staff all work together to give consideration to the risks isolated working can introduce.

These few simple steps could prevent or reduce the risk of a serious incident on your farm or estate:

  • Make sure all staff know where there is a reduced mobile phone signal.
  • Issue all seasonal and new staff with contact numbers in case of emergencies.
  • Staff should leave a copy of phone numbers with someone at home.
  • Mark all field plans with grid references in case the air ambulance is needed.
  • If you have staff who don’t speak very good English, make sure they understand where they are going and can telephone someone who will know where they are if they need help.
  • Try to have everyone checked in at the end of the day – make sure no-one is left unaccounted for.
  • Remind everyone regularly to keep in regular contact with each other throughout the day.

Construction Design and Management Basics

The CDM Regulations are aimed at improving the overall management and co-ordination of health, safety and welfare throughout all stages of a construction project to reduce the large number of serious and fatal accidents and cases of ill health which happen every year on building sites.

A CDM Co-ordinator has to be appointed by the client if a project lasts more than 30 days or involves more than 500 person days of work.

There is a new duty on designers to eliminate hazards and reduce risks, as far as is reasonably practicable. They will also have a duty to ensure that any workplace they design complies with the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

A Client will no longer be able to appoint an agent to take on their legal duties and criminal liabilities, thereby making the CDM Coordinator role more advisory in helping to fulfil their duties to comply with the Regulations.

To ensure that your business meets the CDM regulations, it is recommended that you have a CDM audit carried out by a third party. A CDM compliance audit provides an objective third party view of your company strengths and weaknesses in this area. The CDM compliance audit takes part in two separate stages. The initial approach is to gather information; this is followed by a detailed evaluation which will be presented in a formal report.

Recording Incidents Under RIDDOR

Under RIDDOR it is vital that all ‘reportable’ incidents are reported to the Incident Contact Centre, but it is also very important that all incidents are recorded correctly. These records can help when conducting future risk assessments and can help to prevent further injuries.

Anything that is reported under RIDDOR needs to be recorded. You also need to record any occupational accidents that result in a worker being away from work for more than three consecutive days. (You only need to report these incidents if they result in an employee being away from work for more than seven consecutive days however).

The consequences of failing in health and safety

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA 1974) sets out the basic health and safety duties of a company, its directors, managers and employees. It also acts as the framework for other health and safety regulations, including the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the regulations). In terms of consequences, employers risk huge fines and even imprisonment if they fail to implement the correct health and safety duties.

The range of legal obligations placed on employers with respect to health and safety is extensive. The particular obligations which apply in any given case will depend on the activities carried out by the company, the extent of the risks posed by these activities and other factors such as the number of employees. The main obligations imposed by the HWSA 1974 and the regulations include the following:

  • Employers are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of their employees and those that are affected by their activities so far as reasonably practicable (sections 2 and 3, HSWA 1974)
  • An employer must assess and review the work-related risks faced by its employees and by others affected by the company’s activities. This risk assessment must be “sufficient and suitable” (regulation 3, the regulations)
  • An employer must make and give effect to appropriate arrangements for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures (regulation 5, the regulations)
  • An employer must audit the adequacy of these procedures (regulation 3, the regulations)
  • One or more competent persons must be appointed to implement the measures needed to comply with health and safety law (regulation 7, the regulations)
  • An employer must provide its employees with understandable and relevant information and training on the risks they face and the preventive and protective measures to control those risks (regulations 10 and 13 of the Regulations and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996)

Employers with over five employees must also:

  • Produce a written health and safety policy
  • Describe the arrangements for putting the policy into practice
  • Bring the policy and any revision of it to the attention of employees
  • Revise the policy whenever appropriate (section 2 and section 3, HSWA 1974; regulation 2, Employers ‘ Health and Safety Policy Statements (Exception) Regulations 1975)
  • Record appropriate arrangements for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures (regulation 5, the regulations)
  • Record the significant findings of risk assessments and any group of employees identified by it as especially at risk (regulation 3, the regulations)

Despite the moans and groans of those employers who bemoan the health and safety red tape, it is clear that a safer working environment is better for everyone including those with an eye on company profits. Not only are the prescribed fines for breach a real deterrent, but employees can pursue a claim in a tribunal if they think that their employer has not provided them with a safe place of work.

If you are worried about whether or not your agricultural business complies with health and safety legislation and would like to talk to someone,  please visit our Agri Business Health & Safety Page.