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Mandatory Health Safety Qualification Needed For Farm Workers Claims Expert

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Mandatory training is needed to give more legal protection to staff and employers working in the UK's agriculture industry, according to health and safety experts.

The campaign is being spearheaded by business support consultancy, ELAS, which specialises in advising SMEs on employment law and health and safety.

It aims to address the industry's high rates of major injury and fatality in the workplace, and the number of lawsuits brought against employers, by introducing a proof of competence card scheme.

Wayne Dunning, head of health and safety at ELAS, said: "At present, anyone who employs staff to work in agriculture has a duty of care and must provide the relevant training or they could find themselves at the centre of a lawsuit should an employee be injured at work.

"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 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].

To kick start the campaign, ELAS has devised a half day training course for businesses working in agriculture. 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


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