Farm Safety – Health and Safety Regulations

Although agriculture is considered to be a different area to most other types of businesses, the are still a number of health and safety regulations in force.

These will often differ from standard industrial regulations or orders, but are designed to have the same effect, to maximise the well-being and safety of employees. Most health and safety regulations will contain provision for fines and possible imprisonment for employers who flout them.

In the US, and in many other countries, there are provisions to protect children from being exploited by any employer. The age for this provision is normally set at 16. With regard to farming and agriculture there are normally exemptions to this age limit, setting it at 14 or 15. This normally applies to driving certain types of tractors and farming machinery, possibly including quad bikes and atvs.

The thinking behind the exception is that many younger people will have grown up on farms and be fairly mature in their approach to dealing with certain types of farm machinery.

Most countries will have very specific health and safety legislation, normally in a codified act setting out the responsibilities of employers and employees, and the penalties for failing to comply. Quite often these acts bring together previous legislation into a single bill which can easily be referred to and understood.

All health and safety legislation will apply to farms and agricultural businesses, unless they are specifically exempt from certain sections, in which case there will normally be alternative measures in place and referred to in the act as well.

Most health and safety acts will have some provision for a worker compensation law. This is where the employer has to pay into a fund that will cover any medical or rehabilitation costs of injuries that the employee suffers during the course of their employment. Although this can sometimes be a grey area, it does put a lot of onus on the employer to provide a safe working environment.

It also puts a responsibility on the employer to provide specific training for certain areas of work. In farming and agriculture this can be more difficult because a lot of the training is essentially on-the-job. Where it can apply specifically is to induction and training, regarding machinery and how to operate it. Aside from common sense, this could easily be a legal requirement.

The other main area where employees need to be protected in farming and agriculture is in regard to the handling of poison and other dangerous materials. This means that an employer will be bound to understand the requirements for pesticide safety training for all employees. This may well involve the issuing and use of personal protective equipment.

In addition, employees will need to be trained in decontamination procedures, both for themselves and for other people, sometimes in fairly unstable environments. An unsafe environment can refer either to a physical one, such as an area of the farm that is difficult to access, or to the weather making conditions extremely hard to perform this work in.

As many farms and agricultural businesses are in rural communities that are far from towns and cities, accessing emergency medical assistance can often be difficult. To this end,it is important, especially regarding pesticide safety, that all employees receive adequate training allowing them to perform basic first aid, possibly including CPR, and other medical training. This would allow employees to provide some type of basic care in the event of an emergency until proper medical assistance arrived.