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Ciaran Roche
FBD Risk Manager

Safety first: Farm building and maintenance work

Ciaran Roche, FBD Risk Manager, offers some advice of safety measures when it comes to farm building and maintenance work

Farm building and maintenance work – in particular work at height – can be very dangerous. With this in mind, farmers need to ensure that all work is carried out in a safe manner. Some of the largest liability claims FBD handle on our farm policies relate to farm building and maintenance accidents. 

As appropriate, get competent and insured contractors to carry out the work. FBD, Teagasc and the HSA have produced a “Build in Safety” Advisory Booklet for Farmers. 

For projects that are scheduled to last more than 30 days, involve more than one contractor or involve a particular risk, it is a legal duty for a farmer (the client – the person for whom the project is being carried out) to appoint, in writing, a competent Project Supervisor for the Design Process (PSDP) and a Project Supervisor for the Construction Stage (PSCS). The PSCS is responsible for safety during the construction process.

Falls from heights are the main cause of fatalities and serious injury when maintenance and repair work is being carried out. Therefore, it is essential that every precaution is taken to ensure the safety of all persons working at height. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 (Part 4, Work at Height) is based on a risk assessment approach and requires, in selecting the most appropriate work equipment for a particular activity, that the selection process takes into account the hierarchy of controls: 

  1. Firstly, to avoid work at height where possible;
  2. Then to prevent falls from height; and, failing that; and
  3. To reduce the consequences of a fall.

It must be ensured that:

  • All work at height is properly planned, organised, supervised and carried out safely; 
  • The place where work at height is done is safe; 
  • All work at height takes account of weather conditions; 
  • Those involved in work at height are instructed and trained; and
  • Equipment for work at height is carefully selected and appropriately inspected.

Give collective protection measures (e.g. guard rails) priority over personal protection measures (e.g. safety harnesses):

  • The risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled; and 
  • Injury from falling objects is prevented. 

When carrying out work at height always ensure that there is a safe means of access. If a ladder is used ensure that it is in good condition, footed, secured at the top, and extends at least one meter above the roof access level.  Use appropriate crawl or roof ladders as appropriate and always have a system of fall prevention or fall protection in place. For more extensive work at height the use of scaffold or a cherry picker (MEWP) may be more appropriate. 


Before carrying out construction work it is vital that appropriate insurances are arranged to provide you with protection against any legal liability you may have in the event of an accident on your construction site to any person, whether they be direct employees, employees of contractors, delivery persons to your site or indeed members of the public. Just because you employ contractors to do a job, who have their own insurances, their insurances may not protect you regarding any legal Liability you may have if you are drawn into a claim arising from an accident for which you may be deemed responsible or partially responsible for.

FBD Insurance Farm Multiperil clients with existing Employers and public liability insurance in place are afforded protection for farm outbuilding construction work under their farm multi-peril policy as standard. Traditionally insurers exclude construction activities under their individual policy contracts due to the nature of the risks and severity of potential claims.   

FBD understand constructions works are part and parcel of farming activities. Farmers invest in their infrastructure to ensure they can expand and maintain their farming business. 

The following categories of construction works are covered if farming clients are deemed legally liable for an incident giving rise to a claim:

  • Maintenance and repair of outbuildings;
  • Alterations or extensions of existing outbuildings; and
  • New farm outbuilding construction projects
  • We would strongly encourage farmers to engage a fully insured competent contractors to carry out works of this nature who are experts in this field. 

Make safety a priority on your farm, stop taking risk.