Farmer killed during demolition on Scotland farm

31 May 2016

HSE has reported that a self-employed farmer was crushed while demolishing a wall on the farm and a section of the wall collapsed onto him.

The incident occurred at around 5.15pm on 18 May. Press reports suggest he was a 58-year-old dairy farmer in Udny, in Aberdeenshire, and the work had been going on at the farm for some time. 

HSE are keen to remind the industry that construction and demolition work is a specialist activity, and before attempting any such work farmers and farm workers should ask themselves if they really are competent for the task they intend taking on. Although most farms may, from time to time, carry out some building work, the risks can be considerable and there must be proper controls into place.

Anyone carrying out such work should question whether they understand what controls and equipment may be needed, and whether they can carry out the work safely. All construction work, including demolition and dismantling work must be carefully planned and carried out by a competent person to avoid any unplanned structure collapse.

Further guidance on demolition and dismantling buildings can be found on HSE’s Agriculture and Construction  webpages.

A presentation on this topic is available on RIG’s ‘Resources’ webpage.  This edited version highlights other relevant guidance, eg on the implications of design standards for Farm Buildings and the application of CDM, produced by RIDBA and the Forestry Commission respectively. It also describes a recent challenging 'build' involving a RIG member.

This presentation will also be available via the IOSH Bristol & West Branch ‘Past Events’ page.  Coincidentally, this incident occurred just one week after IOSH Rural Industries Group Vice-Chair Alan Plom gave a presentation to their Group AGM on ‘Construction on Farms’. This included information from a similar talk given by fellow RIG member David Leavesley (on behalf of insurance company NFU-Mutual) to an IOSH meeting held in Worcester recently. 

Action needed

The high risk of construction and demolition work being carried out on farms, either by farmers and their own staff (to save money!), or by contractors, is clearly a matter of concern to many of our members, who have requested our presentations on this topic. 

These activities are often being carried out in remote (and ‘out-of-sight’?) locations, so please pass this information on to farmers and others working in rural industries in any way you can.  If you spot any unsafe activities on your travels, please do something about it, to prevent further tragedies such as this.