ARCHIVE: Farming health and safety: Buildings
The health and safety of everyone in the workplace is protected by the The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and covers basic basic health, safety and welfare issues that apply to most workplaces.
The general requirements to meet these regulations are covered in the HSE’s Workplace health, safety and welfare: a short guide for managers.
Due to the nature of farming, there are a number of areas which Defra, or its agencies, have produced additional guidance for. These include:
- the workplace
- confined spaces
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) booklet Farmwise: Essential guide to health and safety in agriculture covers all aspects of health and safety for on-farm workplaces, including buildings.
As an employer you should ensure that buildings are kept in good repair, making sure that floors are not overloaded, particularly in feed lofts or older buildings.
Workshops should be kept tidy, with no tripping hazards and inspection pits should be equipped with accessible escape routes.
Handrails should be provided on stairs and ramps where necessary, with safety hoops or rest stages on long vertical fixed ladders used regularly, for example on grain bins.
Lighting must be adequate and suitable. Flickering fluorescent tubes should be replaced although natural light should be used if possible, but try to avoid glare.
Good drainage and non-slip floors are vital for areas likely to be wet, such as in milking parlours or buildings used for vegetable washing.
Confined spaces such as grain silos, slurry pits and silage clamps can present particular risks, including asphyxiation, drowning or danger from gases.
Working in a confined space should therefore be avoided where possible, for example by undertaking work outside where feasible.
Where it is impossible to do this, you should ensure safe working practices are followed and appropriate arrangements are made for rescue in an emergency.
Sealed moist grain tower silos should only be entered when absolutely essential. They should never be entered to clear bridged grain. When working in a grain store, dust levels must be kept to a minimum, as described in the leaflet Controlling Grain Dust on Farms.
Cases of permanent lung damage, death and injury have been reported after exposure to gases in poorly ventilated indoor silage clamps.
All slurry tanks above and below ground, sumps, reception pits and spaces under slatted floors present a high risk from noxious gases. Buildings above slatted areas where slurry is stored must be adequately and properly ventilated.
Forage tower silos can be particularly dangerous. Dangerous concentrations of gases can occur just above the silage within an hour of filling.
Information on minimising risks is contained in the HSE information sheet Managing Confined Spaces on Farms.
Most building projects, including many carried out on farms, must abide by the The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
However, some small projects are exempt, for example where construction (other than demolition) lasts less than 30 days and involves no more than four people.
Where CDM regulations apply, farmers have a number of obligations. These include appointing a planning supervisor, appointing a principal contractor and ensuring adherence to health and safety regulations.
Steel-framed farm buildings present a high risk of collapse during erection unless proper precautions are taken and such work should be properly planned using the information sheet Controlling the Risk of Steel-Framed Farm Buildings Collapsing During Erection.
The construction or conversion of buildings for storing pesticides must be secured against unauthorised access and meet strict standards.
Further details of health and safety considerations are contained in the information sheet Guidance on Storing Pesticides.
Roofs on many farm buildings are fragile and unable to support a person’s weight. You must know whether a roof is fragile before work starts.
Many tasks do not require direct access. Inspecting a roof can be done from a telescopic handler, using a purpose-made people carrier.
If using farm equipment to access a roof, the working platform is safe to work from. For details, see Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations
A risk assessment must be carried out before any roof work. Appropriate precautions and systems of work should be provided and implemented. Working platforms or staging, also known as crawling boards, must be properly arranged and meet the correct specifications.
People unsuited to working at heights, including those who suffer from vertigo, should not be asked to do this type of work. Training is usually required to achieve competence in roof work. Training providers such as a college or training group can provided further information.
The law requires that precautions are taken to prevent falls from roofs. The booklet Why Fall for It? details ways of preventing falls in agriculture.
Best practice is covered in the HSE information sheet Preventing Falls from Fragile Roofs in Agriculture. The information sheet Safe Working on Glasshouse Roofs describes best practice methods for the horticultural sector.
Useful links: External
Defra helpline – 08459 33 55 77
Health and Safety Executive – 0845 345 0055 (Infoline)Pesticides Safety Directorate – 01904 455775 (Information section)
Page last modified: 26 May 2010
Page published: 1 July 2006