Recently at Carlow District Court, a fine of €1,500 and prosecution costs of €1,500 were imposed on a farmer for breaches of health and safety legislation.
The farmer pleaded guilty to breaches of the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013. The prosecution arose after an accident that occurred on a farm building under construction, near when a self-employed roofing contractor suffered personal injuries when he fell approximately 22ft whilst installing roof sheets on an agricultural building under construction without any fall protection or fall prevention measures in place.
The farmer pleaded guilty to the charge, in that he failed to appoint a project supervisor construction stage.
If, as a farmer, you are involved in constructing building on your lands, you should make yourself aware of the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013. This is particularly important if you have engaged contractors to carry out construction work.
These regulations came into effect on August 1, 2013, for protection of the safety, health and welfare of persons working on construction sites, and replaced and revoked previous construction regulations. They apply to all construction projects.
These regulation place obligations on clients and designers to ensure that safety and health is taken into account before any construction work begins.
One of the big differences between these regulations and previous regulations is they place responsibilities on homeowners or farmers hypothetically, who are called clients in the regulations, who are having construction work carried out on their home or, potentially, the farm.
A client is a person for whom a project is carried out. Therefore, if you are a farmer engaging contractors to carry out construction work, you would be classified as a client under the legislation. The duties of the clients are dealt with in Sections 6 to 10 of the regulations which include:
- You must appoint a project supervisor for the design and construction stage. This can be yourself, if you are competent to undertake the duties involved.
- You shall not arrange for a contractor to carry out or manage construction work unless reasonably satisfied that the contractor has the competence to do so.
- You are obliged to keep a safety file.
- You shall provide, or arrange to have provided, a copy of the safety and health plan.
As a farmer, it is important that you are aware of health and safety on your farm, particularly in respect of employees.
Under the Health, Safety and Welfare of Work Act 2005, there a legal duty on every person controlling a workplace to identify hazards at the workplace.
The 2005 act applies not only to employees but also persons coming on to the farm, such as self-employed people in their workplaces, such as veterinarians and lorry drivers.
The safety statement is an important feature of the 2005 act, as it requires every employer to put in place a statement in writing setting out how the safety, health and welfare of employees are protected.
However, where a workplace has three or less employees, there are less stringent requirements concerning an up-to-date safety statement.
Health and safety law places a legal duty on employers to ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of their employees.
It is imperative for farm workers to be provided with adequate information in relation to the operation of equipment, and that all appropriate precautions should be taken.
Staff should receive appropriate training on methods to prevent accidents.
As a farmer, you should have insurance in place, including employers’ and public liability, which should provide you with cover in the event of an accident. If an accident occurs, you should immediately
notify your insurer so appropriate investigation can be carried out.
The code of practice for preventing injury and occupational ill-health in agriculture gives practical advice in relation to safety with vehicles, machinery, livestock, slurry storage, gas, and safe use of chemicals on the farm.
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Article by Karen Walsh https://www.irishexaminer.com/farming/arid-40015805.html