Initial notification of agricultural/forestry fatality

As an industry, farming deaths are consistently the highest of any industry year on year. Those working in the land-based engineering industry need to be aware of all health and safety issues and should be especially aware of the particular nature of these issues when visiting and working on farms. Be aware of your surroundings and what you may affect or be affected by when working in these environments.

The following advice was issued by HSE’s Agricultural Sector to assist timely promotion of key health and safety messages. The details are based on initial notification and media coverage and do not fully reflect the detailed circumstances of the incident. The death has been treated as work related BUT this will be subject to further assessment.

The links to existing H&S guidance are to help recipients to promote health and safety and should not be taken to imply details of cause of the incident. Incident summary as notified to HSE or reported in the media are:

  • Date of incident: 15/05/2020
  • Geographic area: Staffordshire
  • General nature of incident: Fall from height (fragile roof)
  • Brief details of incident:Initial notification is that a self-employed contractor was killed when he fell through a fragile roof.


Links to relevant published guidance (HSE and Partnership publications)

HSE’s agricultural guidance on working safely at height can be found at work at height – preventing falls and in leaflets Working at height: A brief guide including NFU guidance: Safe Work at Height.


Key messages

In farming falling from height is one of the biggest causes of workplace death and life changing injury. Anyone who carries out work on a roof should have the right equipment, training, knowledge, skills, and experience to work at height safely.

When having to do work on or near a fragile roof, use the following methods in order of preference:

  • Work from underneath the roof using a suitable work platform, such as a tower scaffold, or where this is not possible
  • Use a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) that allows people to work from the MEWP basket without standing on the roof itself, or where this is not possible
  • Before going on the roof, ensure that a safe system of work is in place and use the right equipment. All edges and fragile surfaces should be identified and controls put in place to prevent falls. Normally this will mean using measures such as staging with handrails, scaffold edge protection, a good access ladder or tower and trained people.


Work at Height – Preventing Falls

Working at height: A Brief Guide

Safe Work at Height