Supporting the Farming Community: Steve Evans at WE Solicitors

Farm workers often face significant challenges in terms of health and safety, and their representation in addressing these issues can often be insufficient.  Here are the key points highlighting the lack of representation and the dangers associated with farming jobs:

Understanding the Risks

Farming involves numerous activities that can lead to injuries, including operating heavy machinery, handling livestock, and working at heights. Common injuries on farms include:

Machinery Accidents: Tractors, combines, and other heavy equipment can cause severe injuries if not handled properly.

Falls: Working on uneven terrain or at heights increases the risk of falls, leading to fractures or more serious injuries

Livestock Injuries: Animals can be unpredictable, and working with livestock can result in bites, kicks, or trampling.

Chemical Exposure: Pesticides and fertilizers can pose health risks if proper safety measures are not followed.

Health and Safety Representation IssuesIsolation and Dispersed Workforce:

Rural Settings: Farm workers typically operate in remote, rural locations, making it difficult for health and safety regulators to monitor and enforce standards effectively.

Small Workforce: Farms often employ a small number of workers, which can limit the establishment of formal health and safety committees or representation structures.

Employment ConditionsSeasonal and Migrant Workers: A significant portion of the agricultural workforce is composed of seasonal and migrant workers. These workers may lack knowledge of their rights and have limited access to representation.

Lack of Training and AwarenessLimited Training: Farm workers often receive minimal training on health and safety procedures, increasing their risk of accidents and illnesses.

Language Barriers: Migrant workers, in particular, may face language barriers that hinder their understanding of safety guidelines and their ability to report issues.

Economic PressuresCost-Cutting Measures: Economic pressures on farmers can lead to cost-cutting measures that compromise health and safety, such as using outdated equipment or inadequate protective gear.

Long Working Hours: Extended working hours, particularly during peak seasons, can lead to fatigue, which increases the risk of accidents.

Dangers of Farming Jobs

Physical Hazards:

Machinery Accidents: Working with heavy machinery, such as tractors, combines, and other equipment, poses a significant risk of serious injury or death.

Falls: Farm workers often work at heights (e.g., on ladders or rooftops) and in slippery conditions, leading to falls and injuries.

Chemical ExposurePesticides and Fertilisers: Regular exposure to pesticides, fertilisers, and other chemicals can lead to acute poisoning and long-term health issues, including respiratory problems and cancer.

Lack of Protective Gear: Inadequate protective gear exacerbates the risks associated with chemical exposure.

Animal-Related InjuriesHandling Livestock: Workers dealing with livestock are at risk of being kicked, bitten, or otherwise injured by animals.

Environmental ConditionsExtreme Weather: Exposure to extreme weather conditions, such as heat, cold, and rain, can lead to health issues like heatstroke, hypothermia, and other weather-related illnesses.  There is also the issue of sun exposure: long hours in the sun without adequate clothing or access to sun screens can increase the risk of skin cancer and other skin conditions.

Manual LabourRepetitive Strain: The physical nature of farm work, including repetitive tasks and heavy lifting, can lead to musculoskeletal injuries and chronic pain.

Fatigue: Long hours and physically demanding tasks contribute to fatigue, increasing the risk of accidents.

Addressing these challenges requires concerted efforts from policymakers, employers, and worker organisations to improve health and safety standards, ensure proper representation, and provide adequate training and support for farm workers.

The dangers of  farming were highlighted recently when a farming partnership  in Surrey was  fined £36,000 following an incident in which a young father sustained serious injuries. The incident occurred at Polesden Lacey Farm on April 28, 2022.

A recent case:

Christopher Rolfe entered a barn at Polesden Lacey Farm to collect hay bales scheduled for delivery to local customers. During this process, five hay bales, each weighing 600 kg, toppled and fell on top of him. The bales had been stored on a layer of pallets, intended to keep them off the barn floor, which was damp at the time. This storage method proved hazardous, leading to the unstable stack of bales.  Christopher, who was 26 at the time, was trapped underneath the bales and called for help.  A nearby dog walker raised the alarm and he was airlifted to hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. 

Investigation and Findings

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation into the incident. The investigation revealed that the method of storing hay bales on pallets in a damp barn was unstable and posed significant risks. The partnership failed to implement adequate safety measures to secure the bales, which directly led to the accident.

Legal Outcome

Following the HSE’s investigation, the farming partnership was prosecuted for breaching safety regulations. The court found the partnership guilty of failing to ensure the health and safety of individuals on their premises. Consequently, the partnership was fined £36,000.

In response to the verdict, a spokesperson for the HSE emphasised the importance of proper storage methods and the need for rigorous safety protocols to prevent such accidents. They highlighted that the incident was entirely preventable with appropriate risk assessments and safety measures.

Lessons and Preventive Measures

This case clearly shows the critical need for agricultural businesses to adhere to strict safety standards, particularly when handling heavy materials like hay bales. Proper storage techniques, regular safety audits, and comprehensive risk assessments are essential to ensuring the safety of workers and preventing future incidents.

The farming community is reminded that the health and safety of workers should always be a priority. Investments in safety equipment and training can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and ensure a safer working environment for everyone involved.

Legal Support from Steve Evans

Steve Evans at WE Solicitors brings extensive experience in handling personal injury claims:  Here’s how he can assist:

  1. Comprehensive Legal Advice: Steve provides detailed consultations to understand the specifics of each case, advising clients on the best course of action.
  2. Investigation and Evidence Gathering: His team meticulously investigates the circumstances surrounding the injury, collecting evidence such as witness statements, medical reports, and accident records.
  3. Claim Filing and Management: Steve manages all aspects of the claim process, from filing the initial paperwork to negotiating with insurance companies and opposing parties.
  4. Advocacy and Representation: If a case goes to court, Steve represents his clients with expertise and dedication, aiming to secure the best possible outcome.
  5. Maximising Compensation: He works diligently to ensure that clients receive compensation that covers medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs.

Why Choose WE Solicitors?

  1. Specialised Knowledge: Steve has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by personal injury claimaints, and will  tailor his approach to each client’s specific needs.
  2. Client-Centered Approach: WE Solicitors prioritise the well-being of their clients, providing compassionate and personalised service throughout the legal process.
  3. Proven Track Record: The firm has a history of successful outcomes in personal injury cases, reflecting their commitment to achieving justice for their clients.
  4. No Win, No Fee: To make legal services accessible, Steve operates on a no win, no fee basis, ensuring that clients do not face financial burdens while pursuing their claims.