Farm incidents ruin lives and destroy families.

According to our most recent research into 900 farmers across the UK, 91% agree that farming is dangerous and most feel a personal responsibility to do something about it – younger farmers slightly more so than their older counterparts.

But what?

There is no doubt that having a Health & Safety Policy is vitally important. As Wayne Owen from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Agricultural Sector Team says : “The law says that every business, including farmers, must have a policy for managing health and safety. A health and safety policy sets out your general approach to health and safety. It explains how you, as an employer, will manage health and safety in your business. It should clearly say who does what, when and how.”

For farming businesses with over five employees, a written policy is a legal requirement and regardless of size, it is required for key assurance schemes.

There are many reasons why every farm business should have a H&S policy but there are also plenty reasons why farmers don’t. Unfortunately negative attitudes to “health & safety” still remain – “waste of paper”, “waste of time”, “costs too much”, “It’ll never happen to me”…

This is where we thought we could help.

According to Stephanie Berkeley, Manager of the charity: “We are working to drive a change in safety culture in the industry. It’s the word ‘culture’ that really matters. Health and safety culture goes beyond simply understanding the rules and following them because you’ve been told to. The key component in making the transition from rules to culture, is buy-in.

Agriculture isn’t like other industries in that it can present hazards to people not actively involved in the industry, such as children and family members living on the farm and visitors. Hazards can also exist for vets, delivery workers and even emergency medical services personnel, as they provide assistance and care to victims of farm incidents.”

In an effort to simplify the process, we have created a new online “Build Your Own Health & Safety Policy” digital tool to allow farmers to work through a series of simple questions.

The process is quick and easy to complete. The site is easy to navigate and has lots of useful links if you need further information, broken down into different farming categories so you only see information relevant to you.

The end result is a tailored policy that you have created which adheres to HSE requirements as well as provides proof of required health and safety standards set out for achieving assurance schemes like Red Tractor Farm Assurance.

Stephanie continues: “Each and every farm worker thinking about what could happen to their work colleagues, visitors or family members on the farm, what could cause it and how serious it could be, is something we should all buy in to. It’s a matter of common sense… but it is not common practice.

People create Health & Safety policies but many workers never actually read them. This is why a Health & Safety Policy, created by you, tailored to your farm, read and agreed by everyone, can help, not hinder.”

The charity worked with Casey Barker, a health and safety expert from NFU Mutual Risk Management Services to gather content and engaged Warwickshire-based design consultancy Exhibit Interactive to create the digital tool.

According to Joe Ashton, MD of Exhibit Interactive: “We have worked with Stephanie and the team for several years now to create various cutting-edge approaches to improving farm safety, notably their Virtual Reality farm safety training sessions. They’re a small team and always seem to be thinking of new, practical ways to improve attitudes to, and behaviours around farm safety but they’re also looking at using innovative technology to deliver these in a cost-effective way. We were delighted to support them with this project as it seems like such a valuable tool for farms of all sizes.”

Following a period of phased testing with health and safety experts, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and Red Tractor, the tool is now available free of charge on our Resources page HERE

Christine Tacon, chair of Red Tractor added: “Having an active Health & Safety policy is a must for all Red Tractor assured farms as it encourages farm owners to think about potential risks and how to manage them. This tool allows members to ensure their policy accurately reflects their farm make-up and activities, and the format allows those responsible to make amends as their business changes and grows. The format also supports communication, understanding and adoption of practices, to ensure on-site health and safety is available to all. Red Tractor are the largest assurance scheme in British agriculture, and we’re pleased to be able to direct our members to these new Farm Safety Foundation resources.”

Stephanie explained Rather than providing a templated policy that the farmer doesn’t even have to read before signing it and that will sit on a shelf in the farm office gathering dust, we want to walk the farmer through a simple online process. We’re making it easier for farmers to build a policy for their particular farm, that they can share with workers, reminding them why safety matters. They can then, sign it and live it. It’s easy, it can be changed or updated when needed, it’s free and it might just save a life! What’s not to like?”