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Farm Safety for Temporary Staff

11 July 2024

Key information contained in this publication:

  • Induct all temporary staff before they start work.
  • Ensure all tasks are properly risk assessed by a competent person and safe working procedures are in place.
  • Ensure adequate training, instruction, and guidance is provided outlining safe working practices.
  • Ensure that all machinery and equipment used is fully maintained, with all guards and safety features working.
  • Regular communication with employees is vital to ensure their safety, particularly if they are lone working. Ensure everyone has emergency contact information, your phone number, and a secondary point of contact in the event of an emergency.
  • Lead by example, if you take health and safety seriously it will encourage everyone to follow.

The information below provides guidance for employers, farmers, farm managers, and contractors, who employ temporary staff. It illustrates some of the ‘typical’ health and safety considerations for temporary staff starting work on a mixed arable/livestock farm.

However, it does not cover all health and safety regulations, or all farm workplace environments. For full Health and Safety legislation and more information, please visit the Health and Safety Executive website:

There are periods throughout the farming calendar which are particularly busy and place increased pressure on farmers, their employees, and farm resources. Couple that with unpredictable weather conditions and there is often an urgency to get more work done in less time.

During peak times, such as harvest, silage, sowing, lambing, and calving, there is often demand for additional labour on farm where temporary staff are brought in to support farm activities. Temporary staff play a fundamental part of the agricultural industry and can fulfil a variety of skilled and non-skilled tasks. Temporary workers or temporary employment refers to an employment situation which is limited to a certain period of time sometimes referred to in farming as casual work, seasonal, or interim labour.

Temporary staff provide invaluable help during busy times, but this can present additional health and safety risks to those who may be unfamiliar with the farm, fields, machinery, equipment and farm infrastructure. People who are new to a workplace environment may be particularly vulnerable to accidents even if they already come from a farming background.

Man in Tractor Banner

Ultimately, it is your responsibility as an employer/farmer/farm manager/farm owner to ensure health and safety on your farm. You must ensure adequate training, instruction, and guidance, is provided for all personnel – employed staff, temporary staff, and family members who may support with agricultural activities.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 place duties on companies and employers to make sure that adequate provision is made for health and safety at work. Employers must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of employees and any others who may be affected by what they do.

Key things to think about

    1. Induction - time must be allocated to carry out a farm induction for new and returning temporary staff. Ensure that any language / understanding barriers are taken into account and overcome for communication, training and instruction etc.
    2. Provide on-the-job training and task-specific instruction, clearly identifying potential health and safety risks and mitigation. On-the-job training may be appropriate for some things but not others e.g. operating a telehandler. In most cases training will need to be provided before the job begins. Some training may need to be provided by external bodies / competent persons.
    3. Carry out risk assessments and provide safe working procedures. More information on risk assessments is available here: Agriculture: Risk assessment ( In addition to risk assessments, the law requires that employers assess and control the risks from hazardous substances. The regulations are called COSHH, short for Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. For more information on COSHH visit

Depending on the nature of your business, you may legally be required to develop food safety management procedures based on the principles of HACCP - Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. More information is available here:

  1. Provide appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the tasks/activities staff will be undertaking.
    • Inductions must be carried out before any work commences. Time must be allocated to talk through your farm’s health & safety plan, walk round the farm buildings identifying any health and safety risks, identifying potentially dangerous livestock (e.g. bulls, cows with calves). Temporary staff may not be familiar or confident working in certain farm environments, such as working around cattle or other livestock, large modern machinery, sheds, dairy parlours, silage pits, grain stores, and slurry stores. All temporary staff should be inducted including those who return year after year.
    • Allow the employee to identify specific medical issues or personal requirements, such as asthma/inhalers, allergies, and any medical conditions. For example, if they have an ongoing back injury it is your responsibility to modify the task appropriately and eliminate any possibility of further injury.
    • Provide clear guidance on break times, toilets, and welfare procedures specific to your farm.
    • Go over your farm health and safety plan, including emergency contact information, your phone number, and include a secondary point of contact in the event of an emergency. It is also advisable to include the contact(s) of your immediate neighbour(s) as they may be physically the closest to site in the event of an emergency. Show staff where first aid kits are located and outline the procedure to follow should an accident happen.
    • On-the-job training must be provided for the particular job/task you want them to complete. Don’t assume that they know what they are doing – machinery and equipment have different controls and technology which may be unfamiliar to them. Training to operate machinery or equipment should be done by a competent person who understands how to operate the machinery safely - an external training provider may be needed in some cases. The training provided and qualifications accepted should not be lower for temporary workers. Ensure that they are suitably qualified to operate certain machinery and equipment such as telehandlers, sprayers, chainsaws, ATVs etc. They might say that they are qualified, but it’s your responsibility to check for certificates of competence and any professional training or memberships they have. Ensure they are medically fit to drive, they are trained, authorised, and insured to use the vehicle/machine. Ensure they are confident in operating the machinery/equipment – although they may have completed formal training in the past, they might not have done the job in years and therefore lack current experience. Training, qualification, supervision, safe systems of work based on risk assessment are all critical.
    • Implement Safe Stop when operating and maintaining agricultural machinery – Engage handbrake, controls in neutral, switch off engine (or turn off power), and remove key (or lock-off the power supply). More information on Safe Stop and safe working procedures when operating machinery and equipment is available here:
    • Clearly identify emergency stop controls for agricultural equipment and demonstrate how to use them. All equipment provided for use should be fully maintained, with all guards and safety devices fitted and in working order. If any equipment is not fully maintained workers should be instructed not to use it and report it to their supervisor. It should then be taken out of service until repaired. Always carry out pre-start checks and encourage all staff to follow set procedures. Check all PTO guards/shields are secure and working correctly reminding staff to implement Safe Stop procedures as outlined above.
    • Make sure everyone understands their responsibilities and the consequences if they don’t fulfil them. It is advisable to supervise temporary staff initially until both parties are confident in their role and they are exercising safe working practices.
    • Provide field maps, road maps and any site-specific information, clearly identifying health and safety hazards such as overhead power lines, water courses, gas pipes, electricity cables, rocky areas, steep areas, and dangerous livestock. If your farm steading is particularly busy with lots of moving machinery, create vehicle routes such as turning circles or one-way systems to reduce the need for operators to reverse and reduce uncertainty which may arise. Don’t reverse unless you have everyone’s attention and can physically see them.
    • Workers should not be in enclosed spaces with dangerous livestock. Ensure that two people are present at all times when working with livestock and staff always have an escape route in an emergency.
    • Risk assessments must be completed to identify, evaluate, and mitigate potential risks associated with particular task(s). Outline safe working procedures to encourage safe working behaviours.
    • You must ensure that temporary staff are provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) for their work. This includes high-vis clothing, dust masks, gloves, and any other job specific PPE.

Once an induction has been completed, it is advisable to get temporary staff to sign a document stating that they have been inducted, given appropriate training, and provided with job specific personal protective equipment. This safeguards the temporary staff member and your business.

Consider creating a small induction pack with all health and safety information enclosed which can be stored and referred to as required. This can include field maps and other useful information to support temporary staff in their role.

Children love to get involved in farming but sadly children are killed or seriously injured every year during agricultural activities.

It is against the law to allow a child under 13 to ride on or drive agricultural self-propelled machines (such as tractors) and certain other farm machinery. The law also requires that employers make sure their risk assessment for young people under the age of 18 takes full account of their inexperience, immaturity and lack of awareness of relevant risks.

The law says that no child under 13 may drive or ride on tractors and other self-propelled machines used in agriculture. It is also illegal to carry children under 13 in the cab of an agricultural vehicle.

Before allowing children over 13 to operate a tractor, certain conditions must be met. These are described in full in HSE's free leaflet here:

As this publication is aimed at temporary workers, we would not at all encourage children to operate machinery, particularly not temporary workers who are unfamiliar with the surroundings.

Children under 16 must not drive, operate, or help to operate, any of the following:

    • Towed or self-propelled harvesters and processing machines.


    • Trailers or feed equipment with conveying, loading, unloading or spreading mechanisms.


    • Power-driven machines with cutting, splitting, or crushing mechanisms or power-operated soil-engaging parts.


    • Chemical applicators such as mounted, trailed or knapsack sprayers.


  • Handling equipment such as lift trucks, skid steer loaders or all-terrain vehicles.


More information on children’s safety and wider public safety on farms is available here:

Communication is vital to ensure that all staff are safe.

  • Ensure everyone has a mobile phone and carries it with them at all times.
  • Provide all staff with a contact number for you and a secondary point of contact should you be unavailable or out of signal.
  • Use text or WhatsApp groups/messages etc. to keep in contact with everyone in your team.
  • Make sure everyone is home safe at night after carrying out a job. This includes any self-employed contractors who may be completing specific jobs for you and working alone.

Lone working is where individuals carry out jobs by themselves without supervision. While it may be appropriate to supervise temporary staff initially, there may be situations where they are required to work alone, or in situations which it’s just not practically feasible to supervise them at all times. When deciding upon safe lone working arrangements, consider:

  • Is the individual medically fit and suitable to work alone?
  • Has on-the-job training been provided covering lone working?
  • How will the individual be supervised, and can there be regular check-ins to ensure their safety and welfare?
  • What happens in an emergency if they become ill or injured while working alone?

Health & Safety Checklist for Temporary Staff

Provide on-farm induction including farm safety briefing
Ask temporary workers if they have any health or medical conditions/requirements
Provide on-the-job training specific to their role, including emergency procedures when operating machinery/equipment
Complete risk assessment(s) specific to the task and identify safe working procedures
Provide farm safety information pack including emergency contact numbers, field maps, road maps, identifying any specific health and safety hazards on locations e.g. overhead power lines
Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the specific job
Keep records and get temporary staff to sign once they have received an induction, safety briefing, PPE, and appropriate training
Regularly check-in with all staff to ensure they are safe and following safe working procedures
Ensure staff welfare by providing regular breaks and access to toilets/handwashing facilities

Apps to Support with Farm Safety

What3Words provides an easy method of pinpointing an exact location. What3Words has divided the world into a grid of 3 metre squares and given each square a unique combination of 3 words. What3Words can be vital in an emergency particularly for locating people in remote areas, but it can also be a useful tool for locating fields, access points, and roads for temporary staff.

Safepoint provides lone-working solutions for people in the agriculture sector, along with many other industries across the UK and abroad.

When farmers and farm workers are equipped with Safepoint’s apps and wearable panic alarms, they can set up timed, GPS-tracked ‘tasks’ (such as ‘Working in cold storage - 1 hour’). If the worker runs into trouble, they can tap a button on their phone or wearable panic alarm and an alert will be sent out (along with their live location).

Smart Farmer is an all-in-one farm safety software system to help manage safety, maintenance, and compliance processes across your farm. The technology is built by farmers, for farmers helping to keep workers safe and machines operational. The technology includes daily start checklists, machine records and manuals, lone worker alerts, training programmes and reminders, field hazard alerts, risk assessments, among other useful programmes.

Additional Information & Guidance

Farmwise - Your essential guide to health and safety in agriculture.

This downloadable book provides guidance that is relevant to everyone working on farms: employers, employees and the self-employed. It will help you achieve good standards of health and safety, and reduce injuries and ill health by identifying causes, eliminating hazards, and controlling risks.

It covers the management of health and safety – principally for those responsible for running the farming or horticultural business – as well as outlining the specific risks of working in your industry and giving you easy-to-follow, practical advice to keep you safe and healthy at work.

Download here:

Farm Safety Courses

It is highly recommended to undertake continued professional development in farm health and safety. There are a variety of courses available to suit your own and your employees’ needs.

Lantra - Health and Safety on Farms (E-Learning)

Health and Safety on Farms (E-Learning) - Lantra

This course will help farmers, employees, and contractors working in agriculture to identify and understand legislation, risks and control measures to protect their safety and the safety of others.

Lantra - Health and Safety practical training

Health and Safety practical training | Lantra - Scotland

There are a variety of practical training courses available such as Food Handling and Hygiene, First Aid for Mental Health (SCQF level 5), Manual Handling Awareness, Safe Working in Agriculture and Production Horticulture, among others. Follow the link above for more information.

Additional Links

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