HSE inspection decision highlights motivational conundrum
HSE inspection decision highlights motivational conundrum

HSE inspection decision highlights motivational conundrum

The Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) has expressed its concern that the Health and Safety Executive has indicated that it intends to stop farminspections (or ‘agricultural compliance events’) at the end of spring 2024.

Instead, it will focus on occupational health as part of its ten-year Protecting people and places strategy, although it remains committed to investigative inspections following accidents.

This appears to be a significant shift by the regulator and enforcement authority away from the current model of undertaking proactive visits to farms and offering advice. These visits can and do also lead to the HSE taking enforcement action, by pursuing prosecutions and imposing punitive fines where they see it necessary.

As the data shows us, farming remains a high-risk industry. Provisional figures for the 2023/24-year show there were 32 fatalities, sadly including members of the public and children.

The FSP is worried that stopping inspections sends out the wrong signal and could ultimately lead to more accidents. It certainly does seem counter-intuitive to take away those effectively policing the sector. However, the HSE’s perspective on it may be that the possibility of an inspection is simply not an effective enough deterrent, borne out by the relatively static fatality rates over the past ten years or so.

Something needs to change, but what? Clearly, we still have a problem with health and safety in farming and we need to improve. However, there is an argument that if the threat of a visit from the HSE, a court case and large or even unlimited fine is the primary motivation for a business for doing health and safety right, then perhaps there is where at least part of the problem lies.  

When considering how a business can avoid accidents, prevention is so much better than cure and ‘good’ health and safety arrangements need to start from the top, be risk based and above all be sensible, clear and practical. 

At Strutt & Parker, we provide our clients periodic and specific advice from qualified, experienced and competent health and safety professionals, offering an objective view of the arrangements and practical, cost-effective solutions where required. Contact Gulliver Hedley for more details.

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