HSE issues farm safety reminder ahead of summer visits

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a reminder to farmers to ensure they are following strict farm safety measures to keep all visitors healthy and safe this summer.

HSE issues warning about farm safety during open farm visits this summerBritain’s health and safety watchdog said that many farmers host “open farm” events during the summer months, often as part of Open Farm Sunday on 9th June.

While the regulator agrees that such open farm events can be informative, engaging and rewarding for visitors and farmers alike, they are also reminding farmers that they have a legal duty to make sure any visitors to their farm are kept safe and well.

Simple farm safety measures can make all the difference

HSE Inspector Wayne Owen says that most farm safety measures are easy to put in place.

He welcomed Open Farm Sunday and other visitor events as a great opportunity for the British public to witness farming first hand and “get an insight into this really important industry,” but also highlighted the fact that farming also remains a dangerous industry.

He said it was “important that farmers understand the risks on their farm and ensure that visitors are protected from harm.”

He added:

“As well as safety risks from things such as moving vehicles and animals, there are also potential health risks that the farmers need to control.

“By following some simple steps, both farmers and the public can get as much out of these visits as possible.”

‘Sensible and balanced’ farm safety advice

Farm safety is an important part of any farm visitThe HSE recently assisted the Access to Farms industry group to produce an Industry Code of Practice (ICOP) to support farm safety.

The code of practice is available to download free of charge from their website. It provides guidance on identifying and controlling risks and includes a checklist for farmers to use. There is also a shorter summary guide, and a guide aimed at schools planning to take pupils on farm visits.

The aim is to provide sensible, proportionate and balanced advice to farms on how to comply with health and safety law and ensure visitors are kept safe from harm.

The HSE has set out a number of key safety principles that farms can follow to host safe and enjoyable open farm events. These include:

  • Ensure you conduct a risk assessment prior to the event and plan it well
  • Ensure that farm and farm staff understand the risks present on site, including risks from animal-borne diseases and bugs (zoonotic risk)
  • Ensure visitors are provided with appropriate information about risks and the controls in place, such as the importance of washing hands thoroughly after contact with animals, before eating or drinking and before leaving site
  • Control visitor access to animals
  • Supervise any visitor contact with animals. There should be separate clean areas for the petting of animals and visitors should be prevented from entering animal pens
  • Provide suitable facilities for hand-washing and direct visitors to use these after petting any animals, before eating food, before and after using any play equipment and before leaving site. Facilities should include hot and cold running water, soap and paper towels. Hand washing gels are not considered an acceptable substitute for washing facilities.
  • If visitors are going to be allowed to consume food and drink on the farm site, provide separate clean eating areas which are near to suitable hand washing facilities
  • Provide clear, prominent signage on site giving important information to visitors, but do not rely solely on the signage to impart important safety information
  • Ensure that visitors are not exposed to other farm safety risks – so, fence off high risk areas or activities and keep people away from routes used by moving vehicles on the farm

In the last five years, 161 people have been killed on farms in Britain, including members of the public and children.

The HSE has previously carried out a focused inspection initiative on farms across the country and, in February 2024, they launched the Your Farm, Your Future campaign to improve farm safety.

Health and safety knowledge is key

HSE supports farm safety through a campaign and focused inspection drivesFirst Response Training (FRT) is one of the UK’s largest and leading national training providers.

They deliver a wide and diverse range of training for businesses and organisations across all industry sectors and throughout the UK. Their course range includes training in the fields of health and safetyfirst aidfire safetymanual handlingmental healthfood safetyhealth and social care and more.

Their health and safety training is mapped to current UK standards and legislation and follows HSE guidelines. It includes training awards in Health and SafetyManaging and Supervising RiskWorking at HeightManual HandlingAccident and Incident Investigation, and more.

Based on a common sense, proportionate approach to workplace safety, training helps learners to understand the true benefits of creating a healthy and safe environment at work.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“People visit farms for a fun and enjoyable day out, often hoping to get close to animals and learn more about what happens on a farm. It can be really educational, especially for children and it’s great to make farms accessible and let people see and learn more about where their food comes from.

“But visitors must be able to feel confident that they will be kept safe and well when visiting a farm. It is vital that farmers and farm workers are aware of the farm safety risks that visitors may face and how to prevent, reduce and manage them. They should be aware of their role in workplace health and safety, their legal responsibilities and the steps to take to make their site as safe as possible for members of the public.

“Suitable training is paramount to ensuring that farmers foster a positive farm safety culture on site and that they protect themselves, their workers and visitors from avoidable harm.”

For more information on any of the training courses that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or e-mail info@firstresponsetraining.com.