HSE Agriculture e-Bulletin March 2015

Welcome to the HSE Agriculture e-Bulletin

As Easter approaches, spring field work begins and lambing gets into full swing. It becomes a busy time for livestock farmers.

In this edition, we include a timely reminder for those who own or manage farm attractions as farms prepare to receive an influx of visitors during the Easter holidays. We also have advice for pregnant women who may be in contact with sheep during lambing and for farmers using side-by-side (or sit-in) All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs).

Our next edition will be during the hay making and silage season so we will focus on dealing with blockages in machines, safety on slopes and safe stacking of bales.

Farm attractions

As we approach the busy Easter holiday season many families are likely to visit farm attractions. Farmers are reminded to do their bit in reducing the risk of infection to visitors, especially those who hold events where the public can hold or feed lambs.

Lamb feeding is a delightful way for children to connect with the countryside but even lambs which appear to be healthy can be harbouring diseases, such as E.coli O157 and Cryptosporidium which can cause serious illness.

We would urge you to make sure children wash their hands after feeding, petting or holding lambs by: providing washing facilities at the right height; providing hot and cold or warm running water; soap and towels; and signpost where these facilities can be found. Make sure they are close by to the animal contact areas.

PLEASE DO NOT RELY ON HAND GELS – they are nowhere near as effective as traditional washing techniques.

A message for pregnant women during lambing

Pregnant women who come into close contact with sheep during lambing may risk their own health and that of their unborn child. It is important that pregnant women are aware of this risk and take appropriate precautions. Do not let pregnant women help with lambing, including any activity where they might come into contact with birth products including contaminated bedding.

These risks are not only associated with sheep, nor confined only to the spring (when the majority of lambs are born). Cattle and goats that have recently given birth can also carry similar infections.

Avoid handling or washing contaminated clothing.

Using ATVs during lambing – belt-up when driving your side-by-side (SBS) ATV

ATVs remain as popular as ever for getting around the farm, especially at lambing time but many farmers are now opting to replace their quad bikes with a sit-in or side-by-side (SBS) machine.

In a crash or overturn, wearing a lap belt can prevent serious injury by restraining you within the protective zone created by the Roll Over Protective Structure.

This simple action could save your life, so make sure you and your passengers remember to "belt-up" when using a SBS machine.

Seat belt could have saved life of estate worker.

A 79-year-old worker died when his side-by-side (SBS) All-Terrain Vehicle overturned on remote moorland. He had been driving the utility vehicle down a slope while collecting dead game following one of the regular pheasant shoots on an estate when the vehicle overturned on a slope trapping him beneath the cab and the ground. He wasn't wearing a lap belt and suffered fatal head injuries.

Learn how to stay safe with professional driver training

When using an ATV make sure that you have been adequately trained. All ATV drivers should undergo professional training to help them stay safe. If you have bought a new machine you might be eligible for free or subsidised training from EASI®, the European All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute.

Training is also available from other training organisations such as Lantra and the British Off- Road Driving Association (BORDA). NPTC City and Guilds also offer nationally recognised awards in ATV operation.

The information sheet Safe use of ATVs provides guidance on training and safe use.

Safety and Health Awareness Days (SHADs)

The programme of SHADs for 2014/15 has now drawn to an end. All the events so far have proved to be very popular with farmers, with around 99% of those who attend recommending attendance to other farmers. Our SHADs are aimed at farmers who run small family farms, with a few employees or who are self -employed.

New guidance

Free-to-download Safety Wizard app.

A developer has launched a free-to-download health and safety app to help small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) manage common workplace risks. The 'SME Safety Wizard app' is structured around HSE's Toolbox guidance.

As too many people overcomplicate health and safety, we are pleased that developers see that HSE's guidance provides them with a free resource of clear and easy to understand content, needed to turn into apps.

Recent Prosecutions

Farmer in court over driver's electrocution

A farm owner has been fined after an HGV driver was electrocuted while making a delivery to his farm. He had raised the tipper body of his articulated lorry when it hit the overhead power line which crossed the farmyard close to the feed silo which he was trying to fill.

Farm worker's death leads to prosecution over exposure to toxic gases

A farm owner and his two businesses have been fined for serious safety failings after a 29 year-old worker died following exposure to toxic gases. Two men had been exposed to toxic gases during maintenance of an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant on a farm.

Worker's life-changing injury

A vegetable nursery has been fined after a worker's arm was severed when it was drawn into an unguarded machine.

Suspended sentence for farming company director after elderly worker killed by bull

A dairy farm director was handed a four-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, after safety failings led to a 75-year-old worker being crushed by a bull.

See the livestock topic pages including the information sheet on handling and housing cattle and Cattle and public access in England and Wales Advice for farmers, landowners and other livestock keepers, Cattle and public access in Scotland Advice for farmers, landowners and other livestock keepers.

Farm director gets fine after dangerous work at height

The director of a dairy farm was prosecuted after he failed to protect both himself and others while working at height. He and a 22-year-old self-employed relief worker, were both knocked unconscious after being lifted in the telescopic loader bucket to work on two tanks.

Farmer in court for roof fall failings

A farm partner was fined for safety failings after a worker was seriously injured when he fell through a fragile cowshed roof. He broke five vertebrae and two ribs, and cracked his left leg socket in the incident. He now has limited mobility and has been unable to work since.

Firm in court after worker paralysed in roof fall

A firm has been fined for serious safety failings after a worker was left paralysed when he fell almost four metres through a fragile rooflight. He is confined to a wheelchair after suffering irreparable damage to his spinal cord in the accident as he replaced plastic rooflights on a farm shed.