The Health and safety Executive (HSE) is visiting poultry farms as part of an agricultural inspection programme.
The National Farmers Union has reminded poultry farmers they should have risk assessments, face-fitted respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and health surveillance in place. Through discussion with the HSE, the NFU understands that the aim of the farm inspection visits is to target priority topics and to promote key messages that address some of the main causes of death and ill health in agriculture.
For poultry, inspections will have a particular focus on reducing the risk of serious ill health from exposure to dust and from other high risk activities such as skid steer loaders.
According to the NFU, inspectors have been briefed to follow normal HSE visiting guidance for farms and use good bio security practices.
As poultry dust is a hazardous substance to health the requirements of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) apply. More information on COSHH is available here. Exposure to dust should be reduced to as low a level as is reasonably possible.
Feedback to date is that HSE inspectors are checking a range of issues, including:
- Risk assessments – have the risks to employee’s health from exposure to poultry dust been identified. A written record of risk assessments must be kept where there are five or more employees but it is recommended that written records are kept regardless of the number of employees. A failure to have conducted risk assessments could lead to enforcement action.
- Measures to control risk including the provision of appropriate face fitted RPE. Under HSE guidance “Respiratory protective equipment at work” (page 49) individual face fit testing (to ensure that a tight fitting facepeice matches the wearer’s facial features and seals properly) is required for every worker. Further information on face fit testing and the poultry industry is available in HSE guidance “Controlling exposure to poultry dust” (page 17). Failure to provide face fitting for workers could lead to enforcement action.
- Health surveillance on employees who are exposed to poultry dust and the need to use input from an occupational health professional. Minimum requirements are set out in “Controlling exposure to poultry dust” (see page 21). A failure to have adequate health surveillance measure in place could lead to enforcement action.