It is the time of year when some farms may be thinking about hosting “open farm” events and inviting members of the public to visit their farm and witness farming first hand.
Both visitors and farmers can find these open days very informative, engaging and rewarding, however it is important that visitors are safe and risks are managed and controlled (for example, are people kept away from moving tractors and not exposed to animal bugs and diseases).
To assist farms in identifying and controlling risks to visitors, the Access to Farms partnership has produced an Industry Code of Practice.
The Health and Safety Executive was consulted in the production of this publication. It provides sensible, proportionate and balanced advice to owners on managing visitor health and safety.
Key components of a well-managed open farm event include:
- Adequate planning.
- Ensuring that the farm and those persons responsible for the visitors understand the risks on site, including zoonotic risk (i.e. risks from diseases or bugs carried by animals).
- Providing visitors with enough information on the risks and controls (e.g. good hand washing technique).
- Controlling visitor access to animals.
- Supervising visitor contact with animals. Providing separate areas for petting of animals. Preventing visitors going into the pens with animals.
- Providing suitable facilities for washing hands (normally this will be hot and cold water, liquid soap and paper towels) and directing visitors to use them after petting animals, before eating food, before and after using any play equipment, and before leaving site. Note: Hand washing gels are not an acceptable substitute for washing facilities.
- If visitors are allowed to consume food or drink on site, providing separate clean eating areas, near hand washing facilities.
- Ensuring that visitors are not exposed to other significant risks on the farm e.g. by fencing off high risk areas or activities and keeping people away from traffic routes
By following these principles and the guidance set out in the Industry Code of Practice farms can hold safe and enjoyable open farm events.