COSHH and agricultural workers - key messages

Substances hazardous to health in agriculture include:

  • dusts from plants, animals, composted and fermented materials;
  • regulated products – pesticides, medicines, feed additives;
  • products used in silage making (and off-gases);
  • fertilisers and soil improvers;
  • paints, oils, lubricants, brake fluids, detergents;
  • diseases from animals, eg leptospirosis, cryptosporidium;
  • confined spaces and toxic gases, eg hydrogen sulphide;
  • vehicle exhaust fumes.

Cleaning activities also give rise to hazardous substances.

Control measures include:

  • enclosing transfer points and putting lids on bins;
  • filtered air supplies to vehicles;
  • dust extraction;
  • fresh air blowers;
  • respirators;
  • skin protective equipment.

Example: grain dust

Grain dust can cause asthma and other diseases when breathed in.

You must reduce exposure to grain dust as far below the WEL of 10 mg/m3 as is reasonably practicable. You normally need to use health surveillance. (Check employees health for any adverse effects related to work. This may involve checking skin for dermatitis or asking questions about breathing and may need to be done by a doctor or nurse.)

Help to identify the right controls is on the agriculture website. Control information for grain dust appears in the following information sheets available from the COSHH essentials information sheets.

Visit the Agriculture web pages for more information.


Your employer provides equipment to protect your health, such as:

  • dust extraction;
  • personal protective equipment (eg respirator, gloves).

You have a duty to use these properly and co-operate with any monitoring and health surveillance.

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