Farm Safety Week highlights a number of dangers in relation to working in the agricultural sector including working with livestock, child safety and tractor driving.
However, this year there has been a new concern as we see a rise in accidents while working from heights.
Due to the global pandemic of Covid-19, many younger people have returned to the farm and are on-hand to help with jobs. With this extra help, farmers are undertaking tasks that they might have previously outsourced, for example: shed painting and repair.
With DIY projects, house painting and yard repairs at their peak, the message of safety needs to be adhered to by all.
Taking care when working at heights not only applies to farmers and those doing DIY, other industries also need to be compliant in health & safety when working at heights and undertake the relevant training.
62 deaths annually
Annually, an average of 62 people die per year as a direct result of workplace accidents in the Republic of Ireland, with the majority of these being fatal instances from working at heights.
Working at heights includes working on trestles, ladders, or on a roof. However, many people don’t realise that it is also considered to be working at a height when you are ground level working adjacent to excavation or working near fragile materials.
Risks associated with hazards include: a person falling from a height with no fall protection, unsafe structures or collapse of ground, trapping of operator and contact with power lines.
In recent weeks, the H.S.A successfully prosecuted two cases related to employers erecting sheds where workers fell from a height, This type of behaviour may, in some cases carry a criminal record with a successful prosecution.
By following simple safety preventative measures, you can eliminate the risk of accidents.
Safety preventive measures
- Plan your task and carry out a risk assessment. Identify possible risks and take measures and precautions to eliminate them.
- When all work is planned, ensure that you or your worker is competent and fully trained for the task.
- Ensure you have the correct equipment, tools and PPE for the job and that they are in working order. Do not start the task without the correct or faulty tools.
- Ensure weather conditions do not jeopardise employee’s health and safety.
- Where a risk of falling remains, measures must be taken to minimise the distance of the potential fall and the risk of personal injury (use of fall arrest equipment, safety nets and warning notices erected at approach to fragile surfaces).
- Ensure measures are taken to prevent people being struck by falling objects.
- Ensure objects are stored to prevent risk from collapse, overturning or unintended movement.
- Where there is a risk of personal injury by falling or being struck, install devices to prevent unauthorised persons from entering the danger area i.e. warning signs.
- Ensure that where the safety of work equipment depends on how it is installed or assembled; that it is not used until it has been inspected in position.
- Ensure the surfaces and every parapet, permanent rail or other fall protection measure is checked visually prior to use and at appropriate intervals.
- Specific safety measures should be discussed and agreed at the start of the job and frequent updates should be communicated.
- Comply with the SHWW General Application -Work at Height Regulations.
If you think that you have a number of jobs where working at heights will be a factor, we recommend undertaking adequate training. FRS Training has a working at heights course that will teach the candidate the skills and knowledge necessary to become competent when working at heights so as to prevent falls.
This course is run in accordance with Statutory Regulations laid down in the Safety Health & Welfare at Work (Work at Height) Regulation 2006.
As it is Farm Safety Week, we remind farmers and farm visitors to take extra care while in the vicinity of animals, slurry pits, tractors and other yard machinery. Farmers should ask for help when needed and do attempt to undertake dangerous tasks on their own.
Farm Relief Services offers reliable farm aid to help with daily farm tasks.
FRS operators are following the current Covid-19 guidelines to safeguard the health and safety of customers and themselves.
To find out more about services FRS provide, visit here.