HSE Supports a Safer Future for Farming

Thursday, 4th Sep '08 at 09:58

Recent provisional statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveal that 39 workers were killed in the agriculture sector in 2007/08. With an average of one death a week over the last ten years, the agriculture industry has one of the worst incident records of the major employment sectors. The industry’s lack oftraining, skills and competencies has been recognised by HSE as a key area for improvement.

At the Royal Show today HSE’s Non-executive board member Judith Donovan reiterated the need to focus on skills and competencies based training for the agriculture sector while presenting certificates to students who have successfully completed their vocational qualifications.

Judith Donovan said, “I congratulate these students who have demonstrated a will to learn and shown that they take pride in doing their work the right way. Their qualifications and experience will help them to make their farms safer and bring about a sustainable change to the industry’s record.

“Incidents on farms can have devastating effects; casualties are not just workers but their children, family members as well as members of the public. The financial costs are also considerable, work can be disrupted and employees absent, which seriously reduces productivity of the farm. While the industry accounts for only 1.7% of the workforce in Great Britain, it accounts for a massive 16% of the fatal injuries to workers, so it is vital that there is a focus on training and competencies to better the safety record on farms.”

Over recent years changes in the agricultural industry have seen increases in the number of smallholdings, self-employed units, contracting-out, part-time and niche market farmers, alongside technological changes in farming equipment and machinery. These changes have placed an emphasis on the need for skills training.

Recognising the need for a greater skilled workforce the HSE has initiated the development of a new suite of vocational certificates in health and safety for farmers and growers. The vocational qualifications have received widespread support and acclaim from key industry stakeholders. They form part of a package of measures aiming to bring about a sustainable change to the industry’s incident record by increasing the level of knowledge, skills and competencies of those people working within the industry, or who are about to join it.

The qualifications have been developed in association with a number of organisations including Lantra Sector Skills Council, the National Farmers’ Union, the Transport and General Workers’ Union (now part of Unite, the Union), together with awarding bodies for the land-based sector, City and Guilds NPTC and Lantra Awards.

  1. The Royal Show will be held from 3 to 6 July 2008 inclusive at Stoneleigh Park near Kenilworth, Warwickshire. For more information see www.royalshow.org.uk
  2. The awards presentation took place at 1200 noon on Thursday 3 July 2008.
  3. Information on the agriculture sector and the vocational awards is available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture/
  4. Qualifications available under the scheme are available at three different levels. The Level 2 Certificate, Working Safely (in Agriculture/Horticulture), is designed for anyone working in the industry or about to join it, the Level 3 Certificate, Controlling Risks to Health and Safety, is aimed at self employed farmers/growers, foremen and supervisors, unit managers, and worker safety representatives, whilst the Level 4 Certificate in Managing Risks to Health and Safety, is for senior managers and owners of large agricultural or horticultural businesses. The Level 2 and 3 Certificates require candidates to complete a multiple choice question paper (with level 3 also requiring a work place based assignment), while at Level 4 the certificate is awarded for successful completion of a short answer exam paper and a workplace based assignment. Awards are to be presented to the top performing students at levels 2 and 3. No candidates have currently completed level 4.
  5. Training courses for health and safety VQs have been developed and are available through agricultural colleges and from a national network of training providers. The training programmes have a strong practical bias, and are geared broadly to mainstream farming and production horticulture. Level 2 has a focus on the identification of farm hazards and typical control measures, and Level 3 requires candidates to undertake risk assessment. At Level 4, management issues such as producing health and safety policies will be covered.
  6. Further information on VQs can be obtained from Lantra Awards on 024 7641 9703 or see www.lantra-awards.co.uk and from City and Guilds NPTC on 024 7685 7300 or see www.nptc.org.uk.
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