Now that we are deep into the winter months, it is the time of year for everyone to start carrying out general farm maintenance, including hedge cutting and ditching, writes Leanne Smales, farm advisor at Farm & General Insurance Consultants Ltd.

It is important that before any works are carried out thorough checks are taken to prevent injury and damage to underground services.

We advise that the following checks are carried out before commencing any work:

  • Checking underground services with the land owner
  • Contacting your local council to gain plans
  • Using a CAT scanner
  • Contacting the relevant service providers

Health and safety plays a huge part of our everyday working lives and it must not be ignored. Not only are claims extremely large for digging through a pipe or cutting a cable laying in a hedge, but they can be deadly.

All reasonable measures must be taken to ensure the safe working of you and your staff. This includes providing the relevant training and personal protective equipment (PPE) to all staff, and making them aware of the risks and what to look for before commencing any works.

Insurance schedules should be checked to make sure that the activities that you are carrying out are covered, including checking the maximum digging depth detailed on your policy. It is important to retain records detailing training to staff, PPE issued, machinery servicing and land checks. Carrying out checks will not eliminate the risks but it’s all about creating the safest possible working environment.