I would like to correct some inaccuracies about HSE's leaflet Sheep dipping - advice for farmers and others involved in dipping sheep ("HSE admits to OP dip dangers", 10 August 2007).
The leaflet, ref. AS29 (rev3), is a revision of a version published in 1998. Both versions set out the practical measures farmers and others who dip sheep should take to help protect their health and the steps necessary under the COSHH Regulations to help them assess risks and decide what precautions are needed.
The 1998 leaflet offers the following advice:
"All dip products contain hazardous substances. If mishandled, they can make you ill, harm the sheep or pollute the environment. The harm products can cause depends on what active ingredients they contain (see the label) and how the products are applied. Hazardous substances can get into the body in three ways: through the skin, by swallowing or by breathing in vapour or aerosol. When dipping or handling sheep afterwards, you are most at risk from absorption through your skin"
This advice is repeated in (rev3) with additional text clarifying that users are most at risk from absorbing products from splashes of dip solution or skin contact with the fleece. Apart from this minor addition, HSE's advice on possible routes of entry for hazardous substances into the body remains unchanged from 1998.
AS29(rev3) also contains advice on issues not previously covered, such as the requirements for a certificate of competence, the use of showers and jetting equipment, and the use of closed transfer systems for OP dips. All of these issues have arisen since 1998. In view of the ongoing concerns about contamination of watercourses, it also features enhanced advice on environmental precautions.
HSE's advice on operator protection, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), remains unchanged. It is disappointing that the photograph used to illustrate the article appeared to show operators dipping sheep without wearing the appropriate PPE.
Head of Agriculture and Food Sector: