Andy Guy is Open Farm Sunday Regional Coordinator for the East Midlands. This will be Andy’s eleventh LEAF Open Farm Sunday and he remains just as excited about the event now as he was back in 2006. Here, he shares some of his Health and Safety top tips.
As I write this piece about Health and Safety on Open Farm Sunday, most hosts will be torn between topdressing and silage planning but there are important priorities that need your attention ahead of the big day. Many farmers cite Health and Safety issues as the main reason they don’t participate and yet, with proper planning, this is something that can be overcome. That said, the safety of your visitors, helpers and staff on 11th June is your responsibility and thinking ahead now can save a lot of time later. Here are some of my key pointers, but do read the H&S guidance given in LEAF’s Host Farmer Handbook.
Always a top priority. Risk assessments help you identify the hazards on your farm and work out how to minimise and control them. The aim is to find all the things that might cause harm to somebody and list them, along with the type of injury that might be inflicted. List what you already do to reduce the risk of injury or harm and work out whether it will be sufficient to protect your visitors. If you need to do more, then record the actions required, who will implement them and when.
One tip, which makes risk assessment easier for me is to find a friend to walk round your farm with you (my self-employed builder pal has proved most useful). A fresh pair of eyes is always helpful! You’ll find a blank risk assessment form at the back of your Host Farmer Handbook and remember to give a copy of your completed risk assessment form to your helpers.
You need to inform your insurers you are hosting an Open Farm Sunday event. Most farm insurance policies cover you for Public Liability and many brokers will be happy to extend the cover to include Open Farm Sunday at no extra cost. You need a minimum of £5 million public liability insurance (if you regularly host school visits you will probably need £10 million).
Hand washing facilities
If your visitors come into contact with farm animals, you need to provide hand washing facilities – running water (even better if you can manage warm running water), liquid soap and paper towels. Refer to the industry code of practice here. Please don’t think that the antibacterial wipes or gels are good enough, they do not meet the recommendations of the Health and Safety Executive and should only be used to reduce the risk whilst people make their way to the proper facilities.
In the UK, food handlers do not have to hold a food hygiene certificate to prepare or sell food. However, food handlers need to have knowledge of the basic principles of food hygiene. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) offers advice online here which you must follow and I would recommend anyone handling food at your event watches the FSA’s 10 short food safety coaching videos (each approx 1 minute long). Areas where food is served (as well as picnics) must be well away from livestock and have been free from livestock for three weeks prior to your event. Ensure visitors wash their hands before eating. LEAF has prepared some signs you can download, print and display to encourage handwashing. My top tip is to talk to the WI who may be willing to help out with providing refreshments for a good cause like LEAF Open Farm Sunday.
Having a qualified first aider on site does offer you peace of mind. If you don’t have anybody in your team, consider talking to school teachers or scout leaders who are often qualified. The other tip here is to be sure that all your helpers have the mobile number of your dedicated first aider. It’s no good having someone on site if nobody can find them!
Other key points to consider
- No-go areas, such as the grain bin and fertiliser store: Lock up. Cordon off. Keep visitors away.
- If visitors can climb on static machinery: Remove keys. Limit fuel in the tank. Brakes on and use chocks. Implements and loads on the floor. Supervise if allowing people into the cab.
- Livestock bio-security: The golden rule is ‘clean in, clean out’ and keep visiting stock separate from other stock.
- Don’t forget to be aware of your personal safety: Keep your house, workshop, etc locked. Be aware of anyone suspicious. Keep valuables locked away or supervised.
Getting the planning right now will mean that the day will run smoothly but, if you have any doubts about H&S, talk to your OFS Regional Coordinator – they have years of experience in organising and planning events. Find your nearest OFS Regional Coordinator here and there is lots of H&S information to be found at www.farmsunday.org
LEAF Open Farm Sunday is farming’s annual open day and takes place on the 11th June 2017. To register your event and order FREE resources, go to: www.farmsunday.org or email: firstname.lastname@example.org