BestNewsSafety

HSA Begins Inspection Campaign Focusing on Working at Height in Agriculture

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has launched a two week nationwide inspection campaign focusing on working at height in agricultural settings. The campaign will target both small and large farms nationwide.

  • Over past 10 years, (2013-2022) there were 191 fatalities on Irish farms. Of these fatalities – working at height and falls has led to 22 fatalities on Irish farms.
  • So far this year, there have been two confirmed fatalities as a result of working at height on Irish farms.

HSA inspectors, during their farm visits, will be reminding farmers of the serious risks involved in any work at height. Inspectors will also be advising farmers to

  • Use the safest possible means of doing work at height. The use of appropriate machinery such as an MEWP (Mobile Elevated Work Platform) or putting in place adequate working platform(s), adequate edge protection and other measures to prevent falls from height.
  • Farmers are encouraged to use the specific advice and risk assessment provided in the Working at Height in Agriculture – Information Sheet
  • Utilise the free online resources like www.besmart.ie  and www.farmsafely.com. These resources will provide further guidance and direction for farmers to ensure work at height is undertaken safely.

Senior Inspector for Agriculture with the HSA, Pat Griffin, says farmers need to be aware of the risks of working at height and plan ahead before undertaking the work, stating, “a fall from a height can lead to a very serious life changing injury or even death, taking shortcuts or carrying out work without due regard to the risks involved is not an option for any person working at height on a farm. Unfortunately, there have been 22 fatalities in the last 10 years relating to working at height on farms. These can all be prevented by planning the work and taking the right precautions.”

“Storms and changes in weather means there can be more hazardous conditions for carrying out working at height, particularly when carrying out repairs on farm buildings. We advise farmers to plan ahead and make sure that work at height is only carried out using the proper equipment and with protective measures in place. This can be done by carrying out the risk assessment in our information sheet to identify all of the hazards, especially when working to repair fragile roofs. Falls from heights are preventable so don’t take the risk.”

The main hazards when working at height are falls from ladders, unprotected edges of roofs or other structures and falls through fragile roof materials. If working on a roof, farmers need to assess the roof to see if it could potentially be fragile, if it cannot support the weight of a person or where part or all of the roof can easily be broken or shattered.

Factors to take into account when assessing the risk of roof work include:

  • Repairs carried out in the past which may have weakened the roof.
  • Metal roof sheets which may have deteriorated with age.
  • Wood wool slabs which may have been damaged over time by water.
  • Roof lights which may have become brittle or obscured by paint or moss.

Farmers could also seek out a competent contractor with the right equipment to carry out the work at height safely.

Farmers and duty holder should remember – maintenance of a structure is considered ‘construction work’ and the extensive legal requirements for construction work must be complied with.

Further information on safe working at height and farm safety and health in general can be found here.

Source: The Health and Safety Authority