Selecting the right contractor to work on farm

Three farm workers with machinery

©Tim Scrivener

Both farmers and contractors have duties under health and safety laws to ensure that everyone stays safe and is aware of their responsibilities. We explain what you have to consider when employing contractors and explain what safety management policies and procedures you need to have in place.

Agricultural contractors play a significant and important role in modern farming, and it is estimated that up to 91% of farmers use agricultural contractors in some form or other. 

Farmers use contractors because they have the knowledge, expertise and specialist equipment that is needed for farm operations and to supplement and support resources available on farm.

Safety in the farm workplace is equally important for farmers and for the contractors delivering services on farm.

Anyone using a contractor on farm has a duty to ensure their health and safety.

A farmer cannot simply tell a contractor what to do and let them get on with it. Incidents can happen because contractors do not know about risks on farm, or farm workers may not know that contractors are on site.

Contractor considerations

When selecting any contractor or supplier to work on farm, you should:

  • assess competence to do the job
    • Do they have the experience and skills needed?
    • Check with neighbours if they have used the contractor and their experiences.
  • check that the contractor has the right kit and enough people to do the job safely
  • find out if they are a member of a trade association such as NAAC?
  • provide the information the contractor needs to do the job efficiently and safely, for example, the location of powerlines in areas they will be working
  • check that the contractor knows the health and safety standards that you expect everyone in your business to follow.

Importantly, you should also agree on how you will cooperate, coordinate, and communicate with each other.

Working safely with contractors

To help farmers and contractors work more efficiently and safely together, the NFU and NAAC have teamed up and produced a Working safely in partnership checklist. The checklist is easy to use and covers the essentials to help ensure work is done efficiently and safely.

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