Preventing falls from heights

Working at height is an ever-present danger on farms.

Farm workers of any age run the risk of injury or death from falls.

Falls from height is a leading cause of serious injury and death among Northern Ireland’s farming community, accounting for more than a quarter of all accidents.

Many falls happen while agricultural buildings or other farm structures are being built or maintained. These jobs typically involve working at height and require some form of temporary access, such as ladders, scaffolds, or other working platforms.

Ulster Farmers Union
Before working at height take a moment to Stop and Think!

Think about the job you are going to do in advance and plan to work safely. Simple safety measures can dramatically reduce the danger to yourself, your family and other farm workers.

Think about whether or not there are different, new or safer ways to carry out the work.  For example, if a roof requires repair, can you avoid going onto it by carrying out the repair safely from below?

Think about choosing collective measures that will keep everyone working at or near the site safe, like a working platform, before personal measures such as a safety harness.

Think about what equipment is required for the job and for safety.  Precautions should be built in to prevent you or others from falling.  For example, using guard rails at a roof edge, or crawling boards on a fragile roof.

Think about the importance of maintaining your equipment.  Make sure there are no defects in any equipment you use and inspect it regularly.

Remember: Falls often occur because no precautions are taken, or the equipment employed is defective, not appropriate, or used incorrectly. Often people about to do a job believe it will ‘only take a few minutes’. They take the risk in the hope that simply being careful will be enough.

HSENI Safe checklist