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'It is a pertinent time to consider how farmers budget for safety management'

None of us would want to have to answer that question, but given the new financial year is upon us and many of us will be conducting a budgeting exercise, it is a pertinent time to consider how we budget for safety management, writes Oliver Dale.

The expectations in relation to what constitutes a good, effective safety management system are changing rapidly.

 

The expectations of the regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), are being more intensively enforced. We are seeing more HSE activity in our sector driven by the tragic fatalities which continue to happen in agriculture.

 

Showing you have a budget for safety is the first stage in showing you have made a commitment to proactively managing welfare in the business.

 

How this budget is allocated is a challenge.

 

It is critical that your expenditure is targeted to priority areas. Those priorities would be determined by you, but should be based on a thorough objective assessment of risks across the farm and should also have regard for what are generally perceived as high risk areas in a farm or estate environment.

 

Making sure you feel confident to make those calls is key.

 

Confidence

 

If you do not, then get some safety management training. A three-day course, such as ‘Managing safely’, is a good place to start and typically costs about £500-800 per delegate.

 

This will give you the confidence to make some of these decisions. Alternatively, get some advice.


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From there, look at training for the team. Make sure you are addressing statutory training requirements where the law says operators must be trained, such as with telehandlers, quad bikes or abrasive wheels.

 

You might also consider basic safety awareness training for the team.

 

Raising their awareness of their own responsibilities often helps reduce the likelihood of an incident occurring and consequently reduces the potential for other indirect costs resulting from an incident, costs such as damage to plant and equipment, loss of productivity or increased insurance premiums.

 

You might want to make a provision for refreshing signage around your sites.

 

Signs are often not too expensive.

 

They have good visual impact if placed well and if you do have a visit from a third party, they immediately let those people know you take safety seriously.

 

There are some really interesting developments in the quality and usability of protective clothing. We have been doing work on building high visibility components into comfortable, breathable clothing which people are comfortable in and keen to wear.

 

Good safety management does not need to be expensive, but you do need to show it is being given resource which is being used effectively and, of course, you feel you are getting value from it.

 

It is a great way of engaging with the team, making them feel you are investing in their wellbeing and demonstrating this to others, such as contractors and visitors.

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