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Keeping on top of electrical and agricultural equipment inspections

According to a report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), agriculture has the highest rate of fatal injuries of all major industrial sectors, around 20 times greater than the average five-year annual rate across all industries.1 While managing day-to-day risks in the farming workplace is everyone’s responsibility, one way to minimise risk is to ensure your electrical and agricultural equipment inspections are up to date. 

Agricultural regulations

It is good practice to ensure all equipment used in the day-to-day running of your farm is in good working order. However, as well as adhering to regulations supported by codes of practice under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974,2 arranging routine inspections and regular engineering inspections can help defend liability claims. 

Keeping up to date with these inspections helps to:

  • minimise the risk of incidents
  • comply with regulations
  • avoid fines or imprisonment
  • ensure insurance claims run smoothly, should an incident happen
  • defend your position should the HSE investigate following any incident. 

Lifting equipment 

A critical area for health and safety management within agriculture is lifting equipment, such as:

  • tractor foreloaders, fork-lift trucks and telescopic handlers (telehandlers)
  • workshop hoists and rope hoists
  • cranes on machines (for example, on lorries or fertiliser spreaders)
  • lifting attachments and accessories.

A LOLER inspection (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998) thoroughly examines lifting equipment by a qualified or competent person, as defined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It may also be known as an insurance inspection.3

You can decide which items need a thorough examination by assessing your equipment and looking at working practices that present risks. Carrying out these examinations will protect both operators and other people in the vicinity who may be at risk if the lifting equipment suddenly fails.

Work equipment 

Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, 1998 (PUWER),4  people and companies who own, operate, or control work equipment have responsibilities to ensure

agricultural work equipment is:

  • suitable – for it’s intended use
  • safe –  maintained in suitable condition and inspected to ensure it is correctly installed and without deterioration
  • used by – competent members of staff who have had the right training
  • accompanied by – appropriate health and safety measures
  • used in line with specific requirements for power,5 and mobile equipment.6   

Since the UK has left the EU, the rules around placing work equipment and machinery, including arrangements for conformity assessment, marking and labelling, have changed. The HSE has more information on these changes.7

Farm electrical safety

Farm electrical safety risks are varied. Incidents may involve vehicles with elevating equipment, such as spray booms or cabbage harvesters, which contact overhead lines. Others can be caused by vehicles using GPS steering not considering obstacles such as electricity poles, resulting in potentially catastrophic collisions.

In line with current electrical regulations, electrical equipment must be safely and adequately maintained, including hand-held equipment and electrical faults on machinery or extension cables. Poor electrical installations and equipment can also cause fires, resulting in significant losses in buildings, equipment and livestock.8

Landlords

Since April 2021, The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations require rural landlords to have any electrical installations in their rented properties inspected and tested by a qualified person at least every five years. Landlords must be able to provide a copy of the Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) to their tenants and their local authority. 

The EICR regulations for landlords apply to: Assured Shorthold Tenancies; Assured tenancies, including Rent Act and Rent Agriculture Act and Agricultural tenancies granted for less than seven years, including a house. They also apply to houses within Farm Business Tenancies and Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies if the initial fixed term is within seven years.9

How our farm insurance experts can help

Our agricultural insurance experts are here to review the risks your farming business face. We’ll help you understand the regulations, your responsibilities and how your insurance cover protects you.

Sources:
  1. hse.gov.uk/fatal.htm
  2. hse.gov.uk/hswa.htm 
  3. hse.gov.uk/maintenance-4.htm
  4. hse.gov.uk/puwer.htm
  5. hse.gov.uk/l112.htm
  6. hse.gov.uk/mobile.htm
  7. hse.gov.uk/brexit.htm
  8. hse.gov.uk/agriculture.htm
  9. gov.uk/guide-for-landlords-electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector
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