Introduction

 Health and safety in the agriculture industry

 Appropriate preventative measures should be in place in all workplaces to minimise the possibility and severity of occupational incidents and illness. The ultimate goal is zero preventable incidents that can affect health and safety.

Farmers and Livestock breeders should be aware of the importance of preventative health and safety measures, and should  have the knowledge, expertise and commitment to apply these measures to their workplace. The Agricultural Directorate through the provision of a Risk assessment aims to support initiatives and objectives by the Occupational Health and Safety Authority so as  to improve health and safety at every opportunity.

It is believed that being a farmer is one of the most hazardous occupations.

The most common causes of death in the agriculture sector include:

  • Transportation accidents (being run over or overturning of vehicles)
  • Falls from height (from trees, through roofs)
  • Being struck by falling or moving objects (machinery, buildings, bales, tree trunks)
  • Drowning (in water reservoirs, slurry tanks, grain silos)
  • Handling livestock (attacked or crushed by animals, zoonotic diseases)
  • Contact with machinery (unguarded moving parts)
  • Entrapments (under collapsed structures)
  • Electricity (electrocutions)

The only way by which health and safety in the workplace will improve is if the process is self-regulating i.e. the farmers And livestock breeders recognise that it is in their best interests to provide their workforce with a healthy and safe environment.

Objective:

The objective of health and safety is to reduce or avoid the occurrence of accidents during work or in the premises of work. Time and money spent on health and safety should be seen as an investment and should not be considered wasted.

Health and Safety definition:

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), health is defined as the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations. In other words, it is what keeps you physically and mentally fit and content. Safety is defined as freedom from risk or harm. It is, therefore, the achievement of such conditions that minimise as far as possible the probability of harm occurring.

Legislation:

Health and Safety legislation aims to improve working conditions, reduce work-related accidents and diseases, and make workplaces safe and healthy for persons at work.

Health and safety is regulated all over Europe and is governed by national and European Community law. 

European community law sets the minimum requirements which each member state adopts or can expand accordingly. The two laws related to health and safety can be found on these websites:

The Maltese Authority responsible for Health and Safety is the Occupational Health and Safety Authority. http://www.ohsa.org.mt/

Directorate's role:

The Directorate's role as regards to health and safety is to inform farmers, livestock breeders and other workers related to the agricultural sector about health and safety issues on the place of work. 

Risk Assessment:

Risk assessment is the process of evaluating the health and safety risks from workplace hazards. It is a regular examination of all aspects of the work undertaken to consider:

  • Ø what could cause injury or harm;
  • Ø whether the hazards could be eliminated; and, if not
  • Ø which preventive or protective measures are or should be in place to control the risk

Steps in carrying out risk assessment

There are five basic steps to carry out risk assessment:

Step 1: Identification and recording of hazards

Step 2: Assessment of hazards to determine the risk level

Step 3: Determination of preventive and protective measures

Step 4: Taking action

Step 5: Monitoring and reviewing

In this regard the Agriculture Directorate has drafted a Risk Assessment that could be used to help personnel working in the rural sector to identify and rectify where possible conditions and/or situations which are considered to be a risk.

The Directorate has submitted an application under Axis 1, Measure 111 of the Rural Development Plan for Malta to provide training courses on an array of subjects of interest to the rural community, including Health and Safety. You may contact project coordinator Mr. Malcolm Borg malcolm.borg87@gmail.com​ for further information.