Staying safe near cattle

Recent incidents involving cattle have underlined the potential dangers they pose to walkers, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a reminder on staying safe near cattle.

The HSE, however, is stressing that serious incidents involving cattle and walkers are rare, while reminding both farmers and walkers to do all they can to keep everyone safe.

Farmers have a legal responsibility to manage their herds to reduce risk to people using footpaths and other rights of way.

The HSE regularly investigates incidents involving cattle and the public. A proportion of these incidents involve serious injury and sometimes death. Incidents often involve cows with calves or bulls, and the person injured often has a dog.

The HSE’s published statistics show that in the five years leading up to March of this year, nine members of the public died after being attacked or trampled by cattle.

Public safety near cattle

Members of the public can find out about steps they can take to safely enjoy the countryside and respect farming activities by following HM Government advice in The Countryside Code.

The advice includes:

  • Give livestock plenty of space. Their behaviour can be unpredictable, especially when they are with their young.
  • Keep your dog under effective control to make sure it stays away from livestock. It is good practice wherever you are to keep your dog on a lead around livestock.
  • Let your dog off the lead if you feel threatened by livestock. Releasing your dog will make it easier for you both to reach safety.

While many thousands of people enjoy the countryside and use the extensive network of footpaths, bridleways, and public access land every day, activities such as walking through or near cattle can be hazardous.

“All large animals can be a risk to people. Even a gentle knock from a cow can result in people being crushed or falling.  All cattle should be treated with respect.

“Farmers should carefully consider the animals put into fields with footpaths, for example cows and calves are best kept in alternative fields.  Even docile cattle, when under stress, perhaps because of the weather, illness, unusual disturbance, or when maternal or other instincts are aroused, can become aggressive.

“Follow farming industry and HSE guidance to reduce the risk from animals and help people to enjoy your land and pass through smoothly.”

HSE inspector Wayne Owen
staying safe near cattle

Cattle safety advice for farmers and landowners

The HSE has published guidance to promote safety and the Cattle and public access in England and Wales: Advice for farmers, landowners and other livestock keepers (AIS 17EW) is available for free download.  A risk assessment can help you identify the hazards and put controls in place to protect yourself, farm staff and the public.  You should record the significant findings of your risk assessment and review these regularly and when there are changes.

The NFU has also published guidance to help farmers stay safe around cattle which is available on its website.

Key considerations for farmers and landowners include:

  • No dairy bulls should be kept in fields with a public right of way (PROW) at any time.
  • Where possible avoid putting cattle, especially cows with calves, in fields with PROW.
  • Where there is a need to keep cattle with calves or a bull in a field with PROW do all that you can to keep animals and people separated.  Consider the use of fencing (permanent or temporary e.g. electric fencing). This is particularly important at busy times or where PROW are heavily used.
  • Assess the temperament of any cattle before putting them into a field with PROW.
  • If cattle, especially cows with calves, do need to be put into fields with PROW, keep this period to a minimum.
  • Position feed and water troughs away from the PROW and away from PROW entrances and exists to the field.
  • Put in place a system to monitor any cattle in fields with PROW at least on a daily basis. It may be worth recording this.
  • Consider culling any animal that shows signs of aggression.
  • Any animal that has shown any sign of aggression must not be kept in a field with PROW.
  • Clearly sign post all PROW across the farm. Display signage at all entrances to the field stating what is in the field (cows with calves / bulls).

If you require advice and support for your farm, please contact one of the Ashbrooke Team.

Fatal incident investigation

A fatal incident investigation has been launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the death of a 27-year-old worker at a steelworks in Scunthorpe.  The incident happened on Saturday 16 July at a business premises on Brigg Road, Scunthorpe.

Emergency services responded to reports of a fall from height and the worker was pronounced dead at the scene.

After initial enquiries were made by the HSE and Humberside Police, it was established that the HSE will lead the investigation into the circumstances of the incident.

, said:

“Our thoughts are with the family of the person who died.  We are determined to understand the full facts of what happened on Saturday. Doing so may take time, but we will remain in close contact with the family.”

Jane Fox, HSE principal inspector
fatal incident

The HSE has a protocol in place with police regarding the investigation of workplace fatalities such as this fatal incident – Work-related Deaths: A Protocol for Liaison.  The document sets out how workplace related deaths are investigated and importantly by which organisation. 

The Protocol is a high-level document which is supported by, and should be read in conjunction with, the Work-related Deaths Protocol Practical Guide which sets out a straightforward step-by-step approach to the joint investigation of work-related deaths. The purpose of the protocol and supporting guide is to ensure effective joint investigation of work-related deaths in England and Wales. Since its introduction in 1998, the protocol has become a tried and tested approach to effective liaison between the signatory organisations when investigating a work-related death. By

signing the protocol, signatories confirm their commitment to the joint investigation approach, appreciating that the public want to be confident that those investigating work-related deaths are doing all that they can to co-ordinate activities, and to cooperate with each other in the best interests of public safety and of those affected by work-related deaths. If you require advice on health and safety in your workplace, please contact one of the Ashbrooke team.

Building contractor sentenced over unsafe work

A Blackburn based building contractor has been sentenced after unsafe work methods constituted a public risk and resulted in asbestos being disturbed.

Preston Crown Court heard that in November 2020, Mr Mohammed Shafiq, owner of a roller shutter business, purchased a former warehouse in Manner Sutton Street, Blackburn to convert into smaller work units, including one for his own use – Mr Shafiq was using his own employees for this.

A report was received by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) from a member of the public, concerned about the fact that bricks from the blocked-up windows were being knocked out from inside onto the street below, causing risk to passers-by.

The HSE investigation found that as well as the risk posed to pedestrians, no edge protection had been installed to prevent the employees from falling. They were also at risk of an internal fall down an open shaft. Additionally, an asbestos survey had not been carried out on the building prior to work commencing.

Building contractor sentenced over unsafe work
Refurbishment projects may require an asbestos survey (stock image)

As a result, piles of disturbed asbestos containing materials (ACMs) such as asbestos cement and insulation, were lying throughout the site. Workers were dry sweeping construction dust and debris possibly containing carcinogenic asbestos dusts without any respiratory protective equipment or suitable personal protective equipment. None of the workers had been provided with any training in asbestos awareness.

Live electric cables were being trailed through water without RCD protection, posing a risk of electric shock, and there was a general lack of training and suitable equipment for work to be carried out in a safe manner. An experienced principal contractor should have been hired to assess risks and undertake refurbishment work in a controlled manner.

The building contractor sentenced over unsafe work was Mohammed Shafiq of Blackburn who pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, Regulation 4 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. He received a 12-month suspended sentence and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,636.08

HSE inspector Christine McGlynn said after the hearing:

“The public can be reassured that HSE takes concerns seriously and will not hesitate to investigate thoroughly and prosecute those who put workers and members of the public at risk.’’

Construction projects require detailed planning to ensure that they are carried out safely.  The appointment of a principal contractor to plan and coordinate the construction project will help to ensure activities are done safely.  Workers engaged in construction activities should be competent and have a good understanding of safe working practices.  Where construction involves disturbing the fabric of a building, an assessment is required in respect of asbestos.  Asbestos containing materials may be present in any building which was constructed or refurbished before 2000 and it may be necessary to engage a specialist asbestos contractor to undertake an intrusive survey. 

If you require advice on health and safety in your workplace, please contact one of the Ashbrooke team.