Community & Care Farms – guidance for managing risk

We are often asked what can be done to help prevent claims at Community and Care Farms. Here, we address four specific areas of risk to focus your time on.

  1. Preparing Care Farms for Visitors
  2. Handling Hygiene
  3. Safety of Staff & Visitors
  4. Animal Welfare

Preparing your Care Farm for Visitors

As care farms open the doors to vulnerable individuals, they must take precautions to minimise any potential risks, including:

  • Signage – plain and simple signage must be displayed around the farm, including information regarding health and safety when working with farm animals and equipment. In addition, any potential dangers should be highlighted to visitors prior to them entering the farm.

  • Health & Safety Information – it is advisable that you have a handout of health and safety instructions available to send out to groups or individuals prior to their visit. It is also a good idea to inform visitors not to bring their own animals to the farm, as this could cause distress to your own farm animals.

  • Risk Assessments – organised groups will want to carry out a risk assessment of your premises prior to their visit. Make sure you have public liability insurance in place and have the necessary information ready to provide to make the process smoother. This may include details of internal risk assessments carried out on Potential Hazards (e.g. Ponds), confirmation staff have relevant DBS Checks and details on what to do in an emergency.

  • First Aid – a member of your team must be first aid trained and your first aid kit checked on a regular basis. The employee/volunteer responsible should always also have an accident book with them; this will assist in the event of any public liability claim which may arise.

  • DBS Checks – all staff members should have completed the required DBS checks before starting work on your care farm.

  • Welcome Briefings – before people enter the farm, it would be advisable to give them a welcome briefing, explaining any rules you have in place and your fire evacuation procedures.

Handling Hygiene

Hygiene is extremely important when running a care farm, especially with vulnerable people using your facilities. Even if animals look healthy, they can still spread diseases such as salmonella and ringworm.

  • Washing Facilities – adequate washing facilities must be in place when animals are being handled. If you do not have running water and soap, you will need to install alcohol-based hand sanitiser dispensers. You should also highlight the importance of washing hands before eating and drinking.

  • Eating and Drinking – no food or drink should be consumed near animals to avoid risk of infection. It is also important to highlight that visitors must not share food with the animals.

  • Instructions – effective signage and instructions should be visible and given to all visitors explaining the hygiene procedure. Remind groups about washing hands with signage and verbal communication.

Safety of Staff & Visitors

It is very important to look after your staff and visitors, especially those who are vulnerable.

  • Hazards – ensure public areas are clear from trip hazards and any dangerous equipment, including chemicals, are stored in a secure building/storage area.

  • Equipment – if a visitor is using equipment or machinery, they must be supervised by a member of staff at all times.

  • PPE – it is advisable that you provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for your visitors and staff to make sure they are equipped for any job they are required to do.

  • Animals – it is important to check animals on a regular basis to see if they are showing any signs of bad behaviour. If so, it is important that visitors are kept away from them to avoid any mishaps.

  • Animal Illness – if any of your animals come down with an illness or disease, you must stop all visitors from entering the site immediately and take the necessary steps to ensure the animal is back to normal using a vet.

Animal Welfare

Animals on care farms have contact with many different people and are a fundamental aspect of the business; they provide a lot of interest, learning and opportunities for individuals. You must make sure that you take the necessary steps to maintain animal welfare.

  • Knowing the Animals – before the animals arrive, make sure you have background information on them, and you can trust where they have come from.

  • Site Issues – be sure that the land used for grazing is uncontaminated and securely fenced.

  • Minimising Risk of Infectious Diseases – good hygiene, adequate washing facilities, clear instructions to visitors, a no food policy near animals and effective signage will reduce the risk of possible diseases.

  • Veterinary Care – you will need to ensure that a vet carries out health checks on a regular basis to reduce the risk of infections. You should also keep records of any vaccinations the animals have had.

  • New Life – it is advisable to keep animals who have recently given birth away from visitors, as the mothers can be very protective over their young.

There are many different health, safety and risk aspects you need to consider when running a care farm, insurance being just one of them.

As the preferred insurance provider for Social Farms & Gardens, McClarrons have a dedicated team who understand the work of care farms and who can provide a complimentary insurance review. We can discuss your specific activities and requirements and provide a policy tailored to your needs, with exclusive rates available for Social Farm & Gardens members.

We have access to many specialist insurers, allowing us to provide cover for your organisation’s individual needs and, should the worst happen, we have an in-house claims team who manage our clients’ claims from start to final settlement.

If you would like some more information or would like to take advantage of a complimentary insurance review, please email or call our Care Team on 01653 600577.


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