Avoid working at height - that's the NFU message

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One of the major causes of death and life changing injury in farming is falls from height and in particularly falls from height whilst carrying out roof and building maintenance

A fall from height is in one of the top three major causes of farm work place death. On average 5 persons lose their lives every year in incidents involving work at height and many more suffer life changing injuries.

A fall from even a very modest height can be very serious. This coupled with a lack of the skills, knowledge and correct equipment to carry out work at height can literally be a lethal combination.

The best advice for farmers is to avoid working at height altogether and to bring in a specialist contractor with the skills, knowledge experience and equipment to do the work safely.

The risks of getting it wrong are shown in a recent HSE prosecution which was heard in Aberdeen on 29 November.In this case Alan Twatt (Potatoes) Limited asked an employee to install an electric cable through four barns at a height of approximately 4 metres. A potato box was used as a working platform. The worker fell up to 3.5 metres suffering a head injury and multiple fractures.

Using a potato box as a lifting platform is inherently unsafe and shows the real need for farms to outsource height work to specialist contractors wherever possible.

In this case not only was a worker put at risk and suffered serious harm the farming business was prosecuted and fined £40,000. All this could have been avoided.

The best way to avoid injury from a fall is to avoid working at height altogether and use a specialist contractor.This message and other information on how to manage the common risks farmers face every day and comply with health and safety law is in new Guidance from the HSE called ‘What a good fame looks like’.

Further advice on work at height is also available on the HSE web site and from CallFirst on 0370 845 8458.