The charging scheme imposed on farm businesses found to be in breach of health and safety legislation has increased today by almost 20%.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is able to recover the ‘Fee for Intervention’ (FFI) where a farm business is investigated and subsequently found to be in breach of health and safety legislation.
The hourly rate on which the fee is calculated has now risen to £154 per hour.
The FFI includes all HSE costs in relation to the investigation, from initial identification of the breach, investigative and enforcement action and any follow-up required to support the business in rectifying the breach.
Agriculture the most dangerous sector in the UK
The increase in cost recovery rate follows a drive from the Farm Safety Partnership, an initiative involving 38 organisations, to reduce the number of farm accidents and fatalities in agriculture by promoting safety-first within farm businesses. Incidents bring a human cost for those affected and a now increasing financial hit for farm owners in light of the rise in HSE fees.
Instances of injures and fatalities on farms are higher than any other sector in the UK economy, with the latest HSE figures showing 33 people were killed in agriculture across Britain in 2017/18 – around 18 times higher than the all industry fatal injury rate.
Four fatal farm accidents have been reported by the HSE in recent months. In February, a Suffolk farmer was asphyxiated while working in a grain store and a self-employed tree surgeon was killed when hit by the tree he was felling in West Yorkshire.
In Scotland, a self-employed farmer was killed when a telehandler overturned on a slope in March and a self-employed farmer was killed by a bale which fell from a loader in North Yorkshire.
With two of the incidents involving farm machinery, the HSE is urging farm owners and workers to take a proactive approach to safety on farms. Their advice includes recommending farmers avoid working in confined places where possible and to plan any entries into a confined space carefully if the work is absolutely necessary.
The HSE also said it was essential that operators were properly trained and operated farm machinery in accordance with the manufacturer’s manual.