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Biosecurity: Guidance to staff who visit farms

SIM 01/2010/02

Purpose

1. To provide advice to inspectors and other staff who visit farm premises of the biosecurity measures they should follow to avoid the spread of a notifiable animal or plant disease.

Action

2. FOD inspectors and other staff who visit or access farm premises during the course of their work should follow the biosecurity measures set out below.

Background

3. The Department for Environment, Food and Regulatory Affairs (DEFRA) has issued guidance on biosecurity for officials and others who visit farm premises. It deals with the precautions to be taken when entering or leaving any premises with farm animals in the absence of an outbreak of exotic notifiable disease; after confirmation of an outbreak of exotic notifiable disease; and to premises under specific animal disease restrictions. Defra emphasise the over-arching message is simple:     

4. HSE has adopted the DEFRA guidance as the basis for biosecurity measures to be followed by Field Operations Directorate (FOD) staff that inspect or visit farms during the course of their work.

5. Staff in other HSE directorates who require access to or across farm land in discharging their statutory functions will need to consider the extent to which they need to comply with DEFRA's guidelines. The DEFRA code is not mandatory and it is accepted that there may be circumstances where compliance is not possible. Nevertheless the standards within the code represent and will inevitably be seen as 'best practice'. Failure to follow these standards or measures in the event of an outbreak is likely to expose HSE to reputational risks.

6. 'Biosecurity' means a series of measures and protocols designed to prevent potentially harmful biological agents (horticultural, animal or zoonoses) from entering or leaving a property. The measures include:

Biosecurity measures

7. FOD staff who visit or access farm premises during the course of their work and who fail to carry out appropriate biosecurity measures on entering and leaving the farm run the risk of spreading plant or animal diseases to and from other farms. It is important that appropriate measures are taken whether or not any disease outbreaks have been reported, and even when for example animals have been removed from premises (disease-causing agents and their vectors can persist for some time). Some diseases are zoonotic (transmissible between animals and man). The adoption of biosecurity measures is therefore invariably consistent with good public health and occupational health considerations.

8. 'Appropriate' biosecurity measures depend on the risk (of spreading disease) associated with the visit. Factors that determine the level of risk include:

9. The measures set out in paras. 10-12 are supplemented by  the following appendices, which give additional information on the precautions to be followed by FOD staff when visiting particular types of farm premises:         

10. The precautions detailed in Appendices 1 to 4 are based on the assumption that FOD inspectors and other visiting staff should not normally:

11. Suitable and sufficient supplies of disinfectant, equipment for its use and appropriate PPE/RPE will be issued to inspectors and should be kept readily available for use when visiting farm premises.

12. Biosecurity measures to be followed by FOD visiting staff include:

Further Information

13. The Agriculture & Food Sector will keep these biosecurity arrangements under review. It will also monitor and advise operational Band 1's/2's of any additional central guidance on animal disease control measures issued by DEFRA's Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) in respect of farm visits.

14. If a notifiable disease has been confirmed by the CVO and a restricted area or control zone has been declared, the status and extent of the area should be checked on the DEFRA website (www.defra.gov.uk). The status of an individual farm or premise within any control zone can also be checked on the DEFRA website (via a postcode search tool).

15. When restrictions are removed by DEFRA, visits to premises can be resumed provided appropriate biosecurity measures are taken as detailed above and in Appendix 1 and 2.

16. Guidance on the transport, storage and safe use of disinfectant (including equipment, procedures and first aid) are detailed in Appendix 5.

Updated 2012-12-03