Workplace safety and welfare

What you need to know...

The law protects the health and safety of everyone in the workplace, and to ensure that adequate welfare facilities are provided for people at work. It sets out precautions that must be taken before work in a confined space, and requires a safety sign where there is significant risk to health and safety not controlled by other methods. The key issues are:

What you need to do...

We have covered many of the specific risks on your farm in other topics. You also need to look at the activities that take place in your workplace as a whole.

General workplace safety

General workplace health

Workplaces can cause health problems, so make sure you provide:

Toilet and welfare facilities in agriculture

If you employ anyone (however short the period) you must provide adequate and appropriate welfare facilities for them while they are at work. 'Welfare facilities' include:

Use of toilet and washing facilities within dwellings

If you have just one employee, it may be acceptable for them to use either the facilities in their home or the home of the employer, provided that:

Where up to three people are employed, it may be acceptable to extend the above arrangements, if:

Remote worksites – temporary facilities

For remote worksites portable toilet and washing facilities are acceptable. For example:

The number of toilets will depend on the number of workers on site and the type of facilities provided. Portable toilets have a limited capacity and will need emptying. A toilet to person ratio of 1:7 is recommended for toilets that are emptied once a week.

Sanitary waste disposal should be provided in temporary facilities used by female workers.

Washing facilities at remote worksites will be required during the main periods of work, and clean running water (or clean containerised water if running water is not available), with soap and towels and a receptacle for the water, will be adequate.

At other times, if staff are likely to be in contact with chemicals or micro-organisms, eg from fumigation activities, sheep dipping, or muck handling, identical facilities will be needed.

Further information

Confined spaces

A confined space is anywhere that, because it is enclosed, results in a risk of serious injury from fire or explosion, loss of consciousness from lack of oxygen, drowning, or asphyxiation. Confined spaces on farms include:

There have been fatal accidents  in confined spaces on farms. Sometimes more than one person has been killed – the second person often being a would-be rescuer entering the confined space without taking safety precautions. If you have areas which present any of these risks you must:

For further information on managing the risks from slurry please see Working Safely with Slurry.

Spaces with limited ventilation

Fire precautions in workplaces

Assess the risks if a fire were to break out, and make sure that:

Fertiliser storage

Store all fertilisers safely. Special requirements apply for the storage of ammonium nitrate (AN) fertiliser. As an oxidising agent, it can help other materials to burn and in certain circumstances it can explode and give off toxic fumes.

Consider the specific risks on your farm

Do you use mobile gas heaters, eg in caravans or for gas brooders? Are they maintained and placed in areas with adequate ventilation for workers?

Have you introduced new risks, eg biodiesel production? Consider where are you making it and where are you storing it – and whether your safety precautions are adequate.

Are you diversifying, eg with open farms, holiday accommodation or shops? Have you carried out a risk assessment identifying the hazards faced by the general public, and assessed the risks, so you can implement  suitable control measures?  For example you may need to consider:

Railway crossings

Do you have a railway level crossing on your farm? If you do, you need to ensure that both you and others using it on your behalf know what they need to do to use the crossing safely.

See the following ORR guidance or contact ORR for further advice.