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Safety for Visitors to Farms

The season for open farm events is well and truly here, and Britain’s workplace regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), is urging farmers to prioritise the safety and health of their visitors. Open farm events offer a unique opportunity for the public to experience farming firsthand, making them both educational and enjoyable. However, farmers must ensure these visits are conducted safely.

Wayne Owen, an inspector from the HSE, emphasises that many safety measures are straightforward and easily implemented. “Events…provide the chance for the public to get an insight into this vital industry. However, farmers must understand the risks on their farm and ensure that visitors are protected from them. As well as safety risks from things such as moving vehicles and animals, there are also potential health risks that the farmers will need to control. By following some simple steps, both farmers and the public can get as much out of these visits as possible.” [source]

To assist in identifying and managing risks, the Access to Farms industry group has produced an Industry Code of Practice (ICOP), available for free download from their website. This comprehensive guide includes a checklist for farmers, a summary guide, and specific advice for schools planning farm visits. HSE’s collaboration in developing the ICOP ensures the advice is sensible, proportionate, and compliant with health and safety laws.

The ICOP states that these are the critical components of a well-managed open farm event:

- Risk assessment and planning to understand the specific risks on their farm is crucial.

- Providing visitors with clear information about the risks and the safety measures is essential. This includes the importance of handwashing after touching   animals, before eating or drinking and before leaving the farm.

- Farmers should control visitor access to animals, including supervising contact, providing clean areas for petting, and preventing visitors from entering   animal pens.

- Handwashing facilities with water, liquid soap, and paper towels must be available. Handwashing gels are not an acceptable substitute.

- If visitors are allowed to consume food or drink on site, farms should provide clean eating areas near handwashing facilities.

- Practical, prominent signage should be used to convey important information to visitors. Active communication is critical.

- Farmers must ensure visitors are kept from other risks on the farm, such as high-risk areas or activities. This might involve fencing off certain areas,   keeping visitors away from traffic routes, and moving vehicles.

By adhering to these principles, farmers can create safe and enjoyable environments for open farm events. These events are invaluable for bridging the gap between the public and the farming community, offering insights into the vital work done on farms. However, the health and safety of visitors must always come first. With careful planning and adherence to guidelines, farmers can ensure their open farm days are educational, enjoyable and safe for all participants.

If you’re a farmer planning open days or events on your farm this summer, Risg Solutions can help you ensure compliance with health and safety laws to protect yourself, your animals, and the people visiting your farm. Contact our team, and we’ll help you implement real solutions. Email info@risgsolutions.co.uk or call Swansea 01792 721 750 or Cardiff 02920 099 450.

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