Taking extra safety precautions when greater public access is expected on farm is crucial, urges farm-insurance broker Farmers & Mercantile.

Last week’s LEAF Open Farm Sunday provided a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate to the public exactly what it means to be a farmer, and what goes on beyond the farm-gate. Equally, many farms are now hosting more public-facing events and activities, such as weddings, school visits or other open days.

Greater public awareness is to be welcomed, but bringing more visitors to a working farm than usual, will likely have insurance implications. Farmers & Mercantile’s Georgie Spencer advises farmers that the first step should always be to speak to the insurer.

“Depending on the nature of the event, you may need to consider extending public liability insurance. Your broker can advise on this. Crucially, it is about following basic HSE procedures and industry guidelines, and being aware of your requirements.”

Two useful documents to refer to are the Industry Code of Practice “Preventing or controlling ill health from animal contact at visitor attractions” and the Access to Farms “Managing Risk Checklist” – both are available to download in the health and safety section at www.VisitMyFarm.orgk

Georgie adds, “Carrying out risk assessments to identify hazards, assessing procedures and taking action to control risks, will engender a safer environment for both visitor and staff alike.”

Basic points to take note of include:

  • When expecting visitors, provide advance guidance of the risks and hazards on the farm. Do not expect visitors to know where they should go, and ensure they are aware they are entering a working farm environment.
  • Clear signage around the farm should highlight restricted areas, guide visitors to safe reception points, and flag-up specific hazards.
  • For public events no matter what size, you must provide adequate hand-washing facilities with running water, liquid soap and paper towels – especially if you have livestock or are serving food/refreshments.
  • If proving trailer rides, follow HSE guidance (AIS36rev1)– the trailer must have a handrail, fixed seats and independent brakes.
  • Follow biosecurity guidelines to safeguard livestock health and safety.

Pictured: Open Farm Sunday at Brockhill Park