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Health and safety for farm and agricultural workers

View profile for Pauline Smith
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Health and safety for farm and agricultural workers

As we enter spring - the growing season, farms become very industrious places, whether they handle livestock or grow crops and other food produce.  As such, more jobs become available in the agricultural industry from spring right through the end of the autumn harvest, many of them for temporary workers.

Unfortunately, however, this sector of industry usually has the highest rate of fatal accidents in the UK out of all workplace accidents. In the spring of 2023, 12 people lost their lives in farming accidents in the UK, with the accidents involving being crushed by moving vehicles, livestock or being fatally injured by machinery. On average between 20 to 30 people lose their lives on farms every year with many others suffering serious injuries including amputations.So why is this and what can be done to prevent these accidents? We give an overview of how to ensure that farm workers are kept safe below.

Livestock handlers

  • All people working alongside livestock should be physically fit and agile, and be periodically reassessed by their employers both for their fitness and competency.
  • Any temporary workers should be properly trained and closely supervised until they are assessed as competent.
  • All livestock workers should be trained in recognising signs that an animal is distressed or agitated and to be fully trained how to respond.
  • Particular care should be taken when parent animals have their young with them. This can cause them to be overly protective and act uncharacteristically.
  • Always check for an escape route before tending to livestock.
  • Ensure that all equipment used for handling animals is inspected regularly and in good condition.


  • Make sure that you are using designated routes around a working farm.
  • Never leave the handbrake off any vehicle when it is stationary.
  • Keep the windows and mirrors clean so that you have a clear view of your surroundings.
  • Make sure that the vehicle is well maintained and free from defects.
  • Check your surroundings before using the vehicle.
  • Use the seatbelt provided.
  • Never exceed maximum loads for lifting vehicles and trailers
  • Only use competent trained people for carrying out maintenance work on vehicles.
  • Ensure jacks and lifting equipment for vehicles are in good working order and checked regularly.

Machinery operators

  • Ensure all machinery with working parts, such as harvesters, bailers, tractors and harrows are stopped and engines turned off and keys removed before freeing blockages.
  • Are guards or protective devices secured in place and working prior to using machinery?
  • Never use a machine with the safety devices removed.
  • Are emergency stop buttons visibly highlighted?
  • Are the workers using the machines fully trained and assessed as competent?
  • Familiarise all workers with the manuals for the machines and ensure that they have read the same.
  • Have appropriate risk assessments in place for the use of all equipment with moving parts.

Whilst farming is a massive part of UK industry, more needs to be done to prevent serious and even fatal accidents from happening in this sector. Farming is one of the sectors of industry which employ a high level of temporary staff. The Health and Safety Executive’s goal is to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries which occur on farms in the UK, and have published some helpful guidance which can be found on their website.

If you, or someone you know, has been involved in an accident on a farm and suffered injuries, we can assist with making a claim. Please contact our specialist personal injury team at Stephensons who can assist with any queries that you may have on 0161 696 6235 or complete our enquiry form and we can call you back at a time to suit you.