Falls are the second highest cause of death in agriculture (as at 20 June 2014) – every year at least eight people die falling from a height. Those who survive suffer broken bones and worse. Falls often happen from roofs, lofts, ladders, vehicles, bale stacks, and unsuitable access equipment, such as buckets. These accidents and injuries cause you pain and cost your farm time and money.
Overview of the problem
The law says you need to follow these rules in this order:
- Avoid work at height where you can; and if not
- Use work equipment or measures to prevent falls; and if not
- Use work equipment that minimises the distance and consequences of a fall
Agricultural work carries an above-average risk of falling accidents. Farming, forestry and horticulture employ about 1% of the national workforce but continue to account for more than 13% of the fatal falls. What can be done:
Five steps to prevent accidents happening:
Step 1 – Look for hazards associated with falls from height around the workplace. Where are people required to work at height? Do they carry out work from ladders, platforms, scaffolds, or unprotected or fragile roofs?
Step 2 – Decide who might be harmed and how. Who comes into the workplace? Are they at risk? Are some groups more at risk than others?
Step 3 – Consider the risks. Are there already measures in place to deal with the risks? Look at areas with unguarded openings or without guardrails and covers. Are regular inspections carried out?
Step 4 – Record your findings if you have five or more employees.
Step 5 – Regularly review the assessment. If any significant changes take place, make sure that precautions are still adequate to deal with the risks.
Ladders are acceptable for jobs that can be done quickly and with a low level of risk, but the risks increase significantly when using a ladder for long periods, moving it frequently or climbing repeatedly to carry tools or work materials.
The Ladder Association runs an annual Ladder Exchange and an opportunity to exchange any dodgy, bent and broken ladders for safe, brand new ones.
Simply take your old ladders to a participating partner near you and swap them at a discount. You get a new ladder at a concessionary price and everyone stays safe.
As well as running an annual competition to highlight ‘Idiots on Ladders’.