Farmers have been encouraged to take a safety-first approach to avoid a major financial hit as fees increase for those found to be in breach of regulations.
A fee imposed on farm businesses found to be in breach of health and safety legislation has gone up nearly 20 percent to £154 per hour.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) introduced a cost recovery regime in 2012, which means farmers are charged for the costs of an investigation.
This is from the point a material breach has been identified through to the point when a decision is made on enforcement action.
The charging scheme is known as a Fee for Intervention (FFI). From 6 April 2019, the hourly charge has been increased from £129 to £154.
Robert Gazely, health and safety specialist for Strutt & Parker warns that a material breach is something which an inspector considers serious enough that they need to formally write to the business requiring action to be taken.
“Once an inspector gives a farmer this written notification of contravention (NoC), the farmer will be expected to pay a fee,” he says.
The final bill will be based on the total amount of time it takes the HSE inspector to identify the breach and their work to help put things right.
Mr Gazely adds: “But taking a safety-first approach should help farm businesses to avoid a financial hit, as the HSE fees can mount up in the event of an investigation.”
The number of people who are killed and injured each year on farms remains stubbornly high, and the human cost of these incidents can be incalculable to those affected.
Agriculture has the poorest record of any industry in Britain and latest figures show that 33 people were killed in agriculture across Britain in 2017/18 - around 18 times higher than the all industry fatal injury rate.
Earlier this year, the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) and NFU launched a campaign which aims to reduce on-farm deaths and injuries by 50 percent by 2023.