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Cattle handling is dangerous

Editorial Staff

In the UK last year, 33 people were killed in agriculture, eight of them while handling cattle.

Agriculture has long been recognised as a dangerous activity: close proximity to complex equipment and sometimes moody or thoughtless animals can, and does, cause injury and death. But as machinery has become safer by design and training in its use more comprehensive, it is animal-related cases that are disproportionately high and working with cattle heads the list.

The Health and Safety Executive is to make inspections at farms across the country looking to ensure that "appropriate controls are in place."

These include:

- proper handling facilities, which you keep in good working order;
- a race and a crush suitable for the animals you handle;
- trained and competent workers; and
- a rigorous culling policy for temperamental animals.

HSE’s Head of Agriculture, Andrew Turner says "those working in the industry need to realise that death, injuries and cases of ill-health are not an inevitable part of farming and can be prevented. “We must not become complacent and accept this as the norm. Farmers should plan their work, know the risks and use the right controls to ensure that everyone can go home healthy from their work."

Behind the gentle words is a threat: HSE, in a recent statement, said "HSE inspectors will be visiting farms to remind farmers of their duty to protect themselves, their workers and members of the public from the risks of cattle. If they are not inspectors will not hesitate to use enforcement to bring about improvements."

There is a guide to good practice available free from HSE at http://www.hse.gov.uk/agricult...

Agriculture is a popular area for seasonal jobs, including travelling workforces. HSE points out that temporary workers are required to maintain the same standards of safety as permanent staff and that means that employers bear the same burdens of training, supervision and care to those temporary workers. Temporary workers are, in fact, a high-risk group for employers. HSE says that the first six months of employment is the time when workers are most likely to have safety incidents (they call them "accidents") - in fact "as likely..as in the whole of the rest of their working life." It follows, then, that temporary workers, who are perpetually in the first six months of a job, are, as a group, the most likely to result in injury or death.