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Health topics in agriculture

Health problems caused by work can develop unnoticed, and in some cases may not appear until much later in life. You need to be aware of the health risks associated with your work and the signs or symptoms of developing ill health.

You should report any signs of illness to your employer as soon as you become aware of them. Don’t be afraid to visit your doctor. Make sure they know what you do for a living so they can start treating you as early as possible.

Early diagnosis and treatment may prevent your condition from worsening and may even save your life.

The following pages provide guidance on a range of key topics and forms the basis of health and safety advice for agriculture. Each topic page provides information and advice as well as references to some of the other most relevant HSE publications.

  • Manual handling and musculoskeletal disorders: If you cannot avoid manual handling tasks, assess the risks carefully and provide information about the size and distribution of the load.
  • Respiratory disease: Find out how to reduce workers’ exposure to substances that cause breathing difficulties, asthma or other respiratory diseases.
  • Zoonoses: All farm animals naturally carry a range of disease, some of which can be passed to humans. These disease are known as zoonoses and if you work with animals your health may be at risk from them.
  • COSHH in agriculture: Farmers use many chemicals and hazardous substances. Find out how COSHH applies to agriculture and how to eliminate or control exposure to substances that pose risks to health.
  • Pesticides: Find out how to use, store and transport pesticides safely. Pesticides include plant protection products and biocides.
  • Veterinary medicines: Veterinary medicines and sheep dips may contain hazardous substances. Find out how to use them safely by implementing effective control measures to reduce the risks to human health.
  • Noise: Find out how to assess the risks and reduce noise exposure, where noise cannot be reduced by other methods.
  • Vibration: Protect workers from the risks to health from exposure to vibration.
  • Skin problems: Find out about the substances that can cause irritant and allergic skin conditions in the construction industry, and how to protect your workers from coming into contact with them.
  • Work-related stress: Use HSE’s Management Standards for work-related stress to assess and eliminate stress from the workplace.