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H&S Expert Calls For

Monday, 14 May 2012

A fatal accident at a pig farming business has sparked a campaign from experts for mandatory heath and safety training to protect to staff and employers working in the UK's agriculture industry.

JMW Farms was fined £187,500 for safety failings which led to the death of its employee, Robert Wilson, in an accident caused by ill-fitting equipment.

Business support consultancy, ELAS, which specialises in advising thousands of businesses on employment law and health and safety, is lobbying for more regulation within agriculture by introducing a mandatory proof of competence card scheme.

Wayne Dunning, head of health and safety at ELAS, said: "This was a tragic yet preventable accident.  The farming and agricultural industries have high rates of major injury and fatality but at present very little is being done to tackle the issue.

"At present, anyone who employs staff to work in agriculture has a duty of care and must provide the relevant training.

"However, there isn't any clear-cut official guidance for agricultural businesses on how to provide a 'duty of care' to their workers, so most are at serious financial risk if the worst happens.

"What is needed is a period of mandatory training - which could be as little as half a day - covering topics such as working with animals, manual handling, emergency procedures, dealing with chemicals/hazardous substances and operating farm equipment."

Under ELAS's proposals, once a member of staff had been given the health and safety training course they would be given a proof of competence card which would be valid for twelve months and give the person a nationally recognised and transferrable qualification.

Mr Dunning added: "There are so many different types of hazard, from handling pesticides to operating machinery, it is difficult and costly to provide appropriate training to cover every area of risk to every single employee. 

"In the event of an incident, employers need to be able to prove that the relevant training has actually been given and unfortunately, without a clear record of this taking place, it's very difficult to prove that it has, leaving them  liable to legal action.

"We believe that a proof of competence card system - which has been in use in other high risk industries like construction for years and is valid for a number of years - would offer a cost-effective solution. 

"Training would be provided on-site and could be delivered to groups of up to 15 people at once, enabling neighbouring businesses to share the cost of delivering the training."

Agriculture currently has one of the highest rates of fatal and major injury in the workplace, with a rate of 242 major injuries per 100 000 employees[1].

ELAS is now running a half day training course for businesses working in agriculture which can include health and safety training related to: working with animals, machinery, environmental hazards, and general maintenance, such as slurry scraping.

For more information, call 08450 50 40 60.



Editors Notes


[1] http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/industry/agriculture/


The cost for ELAS to deliver the half day health and safety training course is £695 plus VAT


To arrange an interview with Peter Mooney, or for any further information, contact: ELAS@beattiegroup.com