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Safety on farm: should you have a social media policy?

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Farms are one of the most dangerous places to work. According to the Health & Safety Executive, while just over 1 in 100 GB workers work in agriculture, the sector accounts for about 1 in 5 fatal injuries to workers.

Does the rise in social media use add to the risk? For office-based businesses, social media 'issues' tend to be about using work time for keeping up with news from your friends and family. For farm businesses the safety issue is at the fore. Machinery and messaging your mates don't mix; handling livestock and your handset at the same time is a recipe for disaster.

For those of you thinking about taking on extra workers over the summer months, how can you lay down some guidelines to make sure safety isn't compromised? One answer is to have a social media policy that sets out clearly where the lines are drawn, and to refer to it when necessary. Introducing it as part of a new starter's induction would make people aware of it from the outset.

Members of our employment and agriculture teams have put their heads together and drawn up a template social media policy for farm businesses, where workers have their own devices but do not have access to the farm’s own computer systems. Its main focus is on the health and safety aspects of smartphone etc. use around farm machinery and livestock.

You can download the template here.

Clearly, one size does not fit all situations and we strongly recommend that you review the draft against the specific needs of your own business to make sure it works for you.

If you would like further advice about this policy – how it can be adapted to your specific circumstances, when and how it can be introduced, or what to do in the case of serious or repeated breaches –  please get in touch with Phil Cookson.