Farmyard And Quadbike
Hannah Leese - Regulatory team

Health and Safety law

Health and safety enforcement action is on the rise. It affects all businesses where employees and contractors are present. The Roythornes’ Regulatory team has successfully defended individuals, directors and businesses against action by the Health and Safety Executive for many years.

The Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) describes farming as a hazardous industry.  It involves dangerous machinery, large vehicles, livestock, chemicals, often bad weather, dust, noise and by its very nature repetitive work.  It is no wonder that there are high numbers of both non-fatal and fatal injuries on farms. 

All of this means that a failure on the part of farmers and landowners to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of employees and any others who may be affected by what they do, could lead to not only a serious accident but to criminal liability. 

Examples of health and safety risks on farm include: -

  • an uncovered slurry pit;
  • a Power Take-Off (PTO) shaft on a tractor which has a broken guard;
  • a fall from a height;
  • public footpaths through fields which have potential hazards close to the path; and
  • exposure to chemicals, noise, or dust.

Often an investigation by the HSE will arise as a direct result of an incident or accident but the regulator will also act following tip offs or complaints from an employee, contractor or member of the public.

The types of matters upon which we can advise are: -

  • advising at an interview under caution;
  • challenging Enforcement Notices, Improvement Notices or Prohibition Notices; and
  • defending criminal prosecutions in the Magistrates’ and Crown Court.

We would encourage people to challenge any and all enforcement actions in a timely manner.  Not only does this ensure that unnecessary enforcement action is removed from your enforcement record, but it could avoid a criminal prosecution later down the line. 

The consequences of being found in breach of health and safety regulations are serious.  The criminal courts have the power to impose unlimited fines and / or hand down community orders or custodial sentences.

 

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