Diversification brings with it dangers

As the agricultural industry diversifies the risks are multiplying and employers must be aware of the dangers, warned Aviva.

The insurer advised agricultural businesses to adopt safer working practices. The sector has one of the worst records for fatal accidents. On average, 46 people working in the agricultural sector are killed each year - almost one death per week - with many more injured, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

The main cause of death is transport – workers being knocked over or vehicles overturning – accounting for 24% of fatalities. This is followed by falling from height (17%).

Phil Grace, liability risk manager, Aviva’s UK Insurance said: ‘With 50% of full and part time farmers having diversified business as they look to increase their income source and respond to new and evolving consumer demands they are faced with new risks. The sector continues to develop and is moving from traditional bed and breakfasts and retail, to sports and recreation, resulting in increases in the nature of the risks, in addition to the number and type of people exposed to them.’

Grace also urged employers to remember they have a responsibility to those who may be affected by work activity, such as visitors and members of the general public.

Grace said: ‘Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers have a duty to protect anyone who comes into contact with work activity, ensuring adequate provision is made for health and safety ‘so far as is reasonably practical.’ This is achieved by implementing a risk assessment process.’

‘Then assess the risks and introduce the appropriate controls. Make sure employees have the correct instruction and training to use equipment or carry out their job and identify and provide any protective equipment that is required.’

‘This could range from wearing the correct protective equipment when using sheep dips to making sure the floor in a farm shop is clean and safe.’

Grace continued: ‘You should also consider past accidents. The HSE website¹ contains many case studies and real life examples to illustrate potential risks. Thinking about who could be affected, how someone could be injured and what injuries they might sustain, will help you to assess risk.’

‘In addition to assessing health and safety risks, making sure you have the correct insurance will help to protect your business. Employer’s liability insurance is compulsory but look at whether you need public liability insurance which can provide compensation in the event of property damage or injury to a customer.’

‘In addition to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), you should also bear in mind other enforcement organisations and policy bodies such as the Department of Environment Food Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and local authorities who have their own regulations,’ concluded Grace.