HSE launches latest inspection initiative; here’s what to expect

Over the next month, the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) will be visiting farms across the country to ensure that risks during building maintenance are being controlled, and that procedures are in place to protect farmers and their workers.

There are a number of risks associated with carrying out building maintenance, including falling from height (for example from a roof, ladder, loft, vehicle, bale stack, etc.) and exposure to damaging asbestos fibres. The latest HSE figures show that in 2016/17 there were 27 deaths and 13,000 non-fatal injuries in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors in Britain.

Falling from a Height

The second highest cause of death on British farms is falls. Each year, statistics show that at least eight people die after falling from a height, while those who survive sustain serious injuries, such as broken bones, often with life changing consequences. The HSE offer free guidance on the best practices to adhere to when working at a height. Often, it is considered safest to bring in a contractor to carry out the work, as they will have the right equipment and skills for the job.

The inspections will be focussing on how the risk of falling from a height is being controlled, including things like:

  • Whether work at height can be avoided
  • If the right equipment is being used (and is in the right condition)
  • If a specialist contractor has been used for high-risk tasks
  • If there is signage to tell people of fragile roofs
  • If work is being carried out by people with the right training and skills


Breathing in harmful asbestos fibres causes the death of many people each year. It is unsafe to drill or cut it, and everyone working on the premises needs to know where it is, and how to ensure they don’t breathe any in. The HSE has some useful information on how to help manage the risk here.

The inspectors will be focussing on how exposure to deadly asbestos is being managed, including things like:

  • If there is an up-to-date plan showing where asbestos is present on the premises
  • If asbestos is labelled in some way
  • If workers and contractors are aware of any asbestos and its location
  • How the removal of asbestos is managed, with a safe method of disposal

Rick Brunt, Head of HSE’s Agriculture Sector, says that the overall aim of the new inspection initiative is “…about making sure that farmers and workers doing building maintenance and repair stay safe and go home healthy from their work”.

If you are at all concerned about the risks on your farm, contact us about your Risk Management; our specialist advisers, Risk Source, will be able to carry out a full Health & Safety Review to address your concerns, and give you advice on how you could make improvements to your farm’s safety measures.

In addition, you can ask us about Rural Protect; a unique insurance policy that supports you if you are faced with investigations, prosecutions and warnings from any UK regulator, including HSE’s Fee For Intervention (FFI). It is important to note that should the HSE find a material breach whilst inspecting your farm, they will be able to charge an FFI.

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