How to develop a health and safety management system

All employers have a duty to protect all those who enter their premises by enforcing strict health and safety protocol.
calendar icon 9 November 2018
clock icon 6 minute read

When planning your health and safety management system, and before writing policy statements, conducting risk assessments and developing safe systems of work, you will need to be fully aware of two things.

  1. The categories of people that you have a duty to protect.
  2. The health and safety regulations that apply to you and your farming operations in your country.

All employers have a duty to protect the following categories of people:

  • Employees
  • Employees with known disabilities
  • Trainees/agricultural students/temporary workers
  • Visitors and the general public
  • Contractors
  • Trespassers

The points to address for each of these categories are:

Before asking an employee to carry out a task:

  • You must take account of their capabilities.
  • This should include consideration of the employees age, sex, physical strength, size, experience and competence, in relation to the tasks that you will expect them to perform.
  • You must provide them with adequate training:
  • When they are first appointed.
  • As and when there are changes in procedures, systems of work etc.
  • On a routine refresher basis.
  • You must provide them with information regarding:
  • The risks to health and safety associated with their jobs.
  • The health and safety control measures in place.
  • Their obligations regarding health and safety.
  • The safe systems of work to be observed.
  • The accident, fire and emergency procedures.
  • The results of any monitoring and health surveillance.

Employees with known disabilities
In addition to the points regarding employees:

  • You must ensure that employees are not asked to perform tasks or handle substances that may, for them, present particular risks. Examples of this would be asking a pregnant female worker or a known asthmatic to administer prostaglandin to sows. Other examples of disabilities that may be relevant to pig farm workers include dermatitis, a history of back or joint weakness, hypersensitivity to certain antibiotics and respiratory problems.
  • You may be obliged to implement a staff health surveillance scheme. This will depend on the regulations that apply to you (seek advice). Even when it is not a specific requirement, it is good practice to implement a health surveillance system anyway. This should include pre-employment health checks (questionnaires) and on-going records of employee absence, sickness and complaints or requests to do with health and safety. This can be used to identify existing disabilities and also to spot any health effects associated with particular tasks and individuals. Respiratory disease would be a typical example

Trainees / students / temporary workers
Because of their inexperience and unfamiliarity with your work environment trainees are a particularly high risk group.

  • You must provide the same degree of protection as for full employees.
  • You must stipulate the special provisions made for the trainees regarding your systems of work etc.
  • You must be able to demonstrate, on record, the point at which trainees no longer require special provision (i.e. are deemed to be competent) for each system of work.

Visitors and the general public
You have a duty to ensure that your premises and activities do not present a risk to visitors or the general public.

  • You should not leave visitors unaccompanied or allow them access to hazardous areas un-necessarily.
  • You should ensure that appropriate directions, instructions and safety notices are displayed
  • You must ensure that areas such as changing rooms, toilets, showers and offices that may be used by visitors are kept as clean and tidy as practicable.
  • You must ensure that visitors are provided with sufficient safety information, for example, regarding dust, noise, fumes, electrical safety and fire precautions.
  • You must ensure that sufficient protective clothing is available for use by visitors and that it is kept clean and in good order.
  • You should have a plan of the premises available for the emergency services (in the event of fire) which shows the positions of hazards such as high voltages, gas cylinders, dangerous chemicals, slurry tank covers and dangerous animals (e.g. boars). How many farms have this available?
  • You must consider your impact on the general public with regard to environmental hazards such as dust, noise and fumes and also physical hazards such as concealed farm exits, heavy works traffic at certain times and mud on the road.

Although to some extent you share health and safety responsibility with contractors it will remain primarily with you as the pig farmer.

You have a duty to ensure that the contractor is not exposed to hazards as a result of your acts or omissions and that your employees are not exposed to hazards as a result of the acts or omissions of the contractor.

The points regarding visitors will also apply to contractors. In addition

  • You must ensure that all contractors are competent and that they and their equipment comply with statutory provisions.
  • You must ensure that contractors are fully informed of the hazards and risks to health and safety which they may be exposed to on your farm.
  • You must inform contractors of the measures that you have taken and of those that they must take, in order to ensure compliance with legislative requirements and your systems of work.

A practical way to ensure that the above points are covered is to use a "contractors declaration" record form. This can be a standard form that specifies what you require of contractors (i.e. that they comply with the appropriate statutory provisions and levels of competence) and has a section for you to give details of the hazards present at the work site, the accident fire and emergency procedures, location of the nearest first aid box, the name of their contact on the farm, etc.. The contractor and the farm safety manager should both sign the form and each retain a copy. The record can then be kept as proof that you complied with your obligations - should such proof be needed at any time.

The law regarding pig farmers duties towards trespassers is different in each country but it is generally the case that unless you are certain that trespassing will never occur. You must take steps to offer some protection against risks which you know to be present. In most cases the repair of any unsafe or damaged items such as loose hand rails and missing slurry tank covers or the provision of warning signs and measures to deter entry may suffice.

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