Tips For Farmworkers To Avoid Falls From Height

Falls from height are the second biggest cause of farming fatalities, according to Farmer’s Weekly, second only to accidents involving vehicles. The publication runs an annual safety campaign to raise awareness of the risks taken by agricultural workers, and how to minimise them.

According to the Health & Safety Executive, many of these falls occur during construction and maintenance of farm buildings. Often, workers assume that a straightforward task such as cleaning out a gutter is a quick job that doesn’t warrant a risk assessment. This can lead to the wrong type, or faulty equipment being used.

The five main categories of fall from height accidents in the agricultural sector include falls through fragile roofs; falls through roof lights; falls from open edges; falls from working platforms on vehicles; and falls from ladders.

On of the main causes of death from a fall is head injuries, so it is important to always wear a hard hat when working at height. Where possible, professional contractors should be used for maintenance roof work, as they will have the right equipment, skills, and experience for the job.”

Farm Safety Partnership chairman and NFU vice-president Stuart Roberts said: “While we farmers like to consider ourselves a jack of all trades, we need to start asking ourselves, what if the shoe was on the other foot? Would we let a builder grow our crops or care for our livestock?

He added: “[…] we need to take the time to consider the safest course of action. Whether it’s finding a way to do the job from the ground, investing in training staff or hiring a professional contractor, all it takes is a bit of planning to make sure we have the right people, the right training and the right equipment for the job at hand.”

Where a ladder is used, it must be in good condition, secured to prevent it slipping, and not leant against a fragile surface. Three points of contact should be maintained at all times, i.e., both feet and one hand, or vice versa.

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