On Farm Staff Training

I don’t employ anyone; Why do I need Employers’ Liability Insurance?

Many farming businesses no longer employ labour directly; they may utilise self-employed labour, unpaid family members, labour-only contractors or agency employees.

In each of these circumstances it is still vitally important that the farming business maintains Employers’ Liability insurance.

Employers’ Liability insurance is a legal requirement for any business that is using labour. The cover provides legal liability for injury or illness caused to anyone working on the farm. The normal indemnity limit in farming is £10,000,000 for any one claim. Together with Public & Products Liability insurance it is the most vital insurance cover on the farm.

On Farm Staff TrainingThe most common problem we see on farms today is where the farmer believes that because he uses self-employed labour Employers’ Liability cover is not required. This is categorically not the case; if that self-employed labour is utilising your premises, tools and machinery and is under your direction, in the eyes of the law they will be seen as an employee. Their tax status is totally irrelevant. The same situation arises if you have a family member, friend or neighbour helping you out for a day and no payment is made to them; in the eyes of the law they will be classed as an employee and you will need to have Employers’ Liability insurance to cover them.

If someone is seriously injured at work, the compensation claim and resultant legal fees can run into hundreds of thousands, and occasionally millions, of pounds, so it is crucial that Employers’ Liability insurance is not overlooked.

Premiums for Employers’ Liability cover will vary between insurers but will generally start from £100 per annum and increase with the amount of wages you pay out.

Good health and safety management on the farm will help keep premiums down as this should be reflected in fewer accidents.

Our advice has always been that even where you employ no direct labour it is always worth keeping the cover in place.

Case Study A recent claim we dealt with involved a self-employed builder who had quoted for and accepted a job to convert a redundant farm building into an office. The builder would occasionally borrow a tractor and trailer from the farmer for removing debris and unloading materials on site. One of the farm staff had also assisted the builder from time to time. Before the job was finished the builder sustained a back injury which caused him to be off work for approximately one year. The builder sued the farmer as his employer; insurers went to court to defend the farmer but lost the case as the Judge felt an employer/employee relationship existed due to the farmer providing occasional labour, tools and machinery. The court award to the builder was in the region of £100,000. Luckily the farmer had Employers’ Liability insurance that paid the court award plus all of the legal costs involved.

Never risk not having Employers’ Liability insurance.


LOLER and PUWER Requirements: Where You Stand

MerloIt is a requirement of the Health and Safety Executive that whether you are self-employed, an employee, an owner operator or smallholder, any item of lifting machinery used on-farm should be inspected by a competent person to comply with the following standards:-

LOLER98 Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations which includes the condition of the lift rams (including safety check valves), Tilt/crowd ram, Telescopic ram, hydraulic hoses, safe load indicator, the boom, pins and bushes and boom wear pads.

PUWER98 Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations which includes the condition of the tyres, footbrake and handbrake operation, steering, cab and/or safety frame, and chassis.

LOLER inspections are a vital part of your Landowner obligations. Some common misconceptions that our inspectors hear regularly regarding LOLER and PUWER requirements include;

  1. “Only people I employ drive it”
  2. “Only I drive it”
  3. “I am changing the machine soon so I don’t need to get it inspected”
  4. “My Public Liability insurance is suitable cover”
  5. “ It doesn’t go on the road”
  6. “It had an inspection certificate when I bought it 2 years ago” (needs to be inspected annually)

What our engineering inspector’s response is when asked why it should be done;

  • Good Housekeeping
  • Peace of mind
  • Legal requirement
  • Inspections aim to ensure that your lifting equipment complies with all PUWER and LOLER HSE standards, which have been mandatory since 1998
  • Machine Maintenance/ MOT
  • You receive a comprehensive report detailing any preventative measures that could be carried out to reduce not only the risk of serious injury, but also potentially costly repairs.
  • Encourage a proactive rather than a reactive approach
  • Cost effective – the approximate cost for a loader and air receiver is £165 plus VAT. This is less than the cost of your Farmers’ Weekly Subscription and considerably less than a fine from the HSE.
  • If the HSE is notified of any accident on the farm they will check to see what certificates are in place regardless, even if the loader or air vessel were not involved.
  • Unwise risk taking is an underlying problem within the industry and it can have devastating effects for those involved and their families.
  • However much experience you have had with lifting equipment accidents can still happen, especially those involving machinery failures.

A thorough inspection of your lifting machinery can be likened to an MOT and needs to be carried out annually. Important to note however is that any item of plant that lifts people, such as a man platform attachment, should be inspected at 6 monthly intervals along with the machine it is used on.

We emphasise that the inspection needs to be thorough and carried out by an independent engineer. There is no advantage or disadvantage to our engineers finding fault with a machine, hence the report that you receive is unbiased and detailed.
It is important that we work with, not against, farmers to comply with legislation. In most cases where signs of wear are found our recommendations will lead to a much lower repair bill than if the fault goes undetected. For example if play is found in the machines’ carriage pins it may simply require a replacement bush, whereas if left undetected, the pin will require replacement as well.

More farmers are being asked by the HSE to produce valid inspection certificates even where the reason for the HSE visit does not originate with the machinery. We receive phone calls from farmers saying that they’ve been given an opportunity to comply or be fined. Whilst you no doubt hold insurance to protect you against an accident on-farm, your insurance will not protect you against a prosecution or fine. For urgent requests if you have been visited by the HSE, we will escalate the inspections.

If you are an employer or self-employed person providing lifting equipment for use at work, or you have control of the use of lifting equipment, then the Regulations will apply to you.

This list will help you identify equipment covered by the Regulation;

  • Telescopic handlers
  • Rough terrain, counter-balance and Mounty forklift trucks
  • Skid steer loaders
  • 360 excavators including mini diggers
  • Backhoe loaders
  • Loading shovels
  • Cranes to include lorry mounted and 3 point linkage mounted big bag cranes
  • Timber forwarders
  • Access/Work platforms including man platform attachments used on telehandlers, scissor lifts, etc
  • Overhead workshop gantries
  • Electric and manual chain lift hoists
  • Lifting slings and lifting chains
  • Vehicle workshop lifts
  • Hydraulic bottle and trolley jacks
  • Engine workshop hoists

If you are in doubt please do contact us – call us on 01604 782782 or email to engineering@fandmgroup.co.uk

Mr Chateau

Henry’s Winter Tips for the Country Home

Mr ChateauAs we are entering the winter months of 2014/15, many of you are looking forward to spending time with your family at home, or maybe, planning to get away from the winter cold for a week or two, now’s the time to take a few minutes to carry out some checks on your home for peace of mind.

Here are some simple steps that you can take:

Roof, Gutters, Down Pipes and Drains

The first thing to do is prepare the roof for winter, conduct an inspection as best you can. Take note of any slipped or missing slates/ tiles and have them replaced. Now the last leaves, pine needles or other foliage have fallen, these could potentially lie in the gutters or on your drain covers. This could increase the risk of water getting into the home especially during the unpredictable heavy rainfall, which is becoming a feature of UK weather.

  • Clear debris from gutters to allow water to drain away freely and check for any blockage’s in the pipework to ensure no water is escaping.
  • If you have drainage ditches or culverts near to your home and they appear not be free flowing please ask the owner (or relevant authority) to clear them of any debris.

Dry Lined cellars, basements or properties protected by pumps

Check that the uninterrupted power supply/battery backup for these is serviceable and that the pumps are fully operational.

Pipe work, radiators and tanks

Ensure that you protect against frost by lagging pipes in lofts, out buildings and other exposed areas. Check where the water stopcock is (in case you have forgotten), and make sure that it can be turned off in an emergency.

Open fires, log burning stoves

Before using these for the first time for an extended period make sure that they are swept and free of obstruction to minimise the risk of soot fall or chimney fire.

Use a spark guard when leaving a room with an unattended open fire.

If you are planning to holiday during the winter months leave the heating on to protect the home throughout the entire 24 hour period and arrange for regular inspection to ensure all is well – often the change in water use during absences exposes unidentified issues such as overflows or ball valves, which if undetected for an extended period result in damage and inconvenience.

Finally make sure that you adhere to any requirements made by your insurers if you are away from the home for any period.

We hope this information is useful for you and helps to prevent or mitigate a loss from flood or water damage.


This article was written by Henry Worthy


Baling your own Straw (or Hay)

HaystackWhen asked about the insurance implications of baling their own straw and storing and selling it over next winter Nigel Wellings wrote an article which appeared in the Business Clinic of Farmers Weekly on 24th April 2014. Click to read the full article.

The following extract includes the key points from the article.

The Risks

The two main implications are

  • The extra fire risk
  • The potential liability from falling bales causing
    • damage to machinery
    • injury to employees and visitors to the farm

Most insurers cover hay and straw against fire as standard but it is always worth checking this and any stack limits. Other perils such as storm, flood or theft need to be discussed specifically with your broker.

Risk Management

Your insurer will expect you to manage the risk to minimise the chances of a claim, considering:

  • Size of stacks. Most insurers will need to know if there is more than £30,000 of hay/straw in any one stack.
  • Will the stack be sited in a building or in the open? If in a building, how far is it from stored machinery, livestock or combustible items or other buildings? Get your broker’s advice on where to site outdoor stacks or new sheds.
  • How high are you proposing to stack the bales? The higher the stack, the more risk of it falling and injuring someone.
  • Signage is essential for both outdoor and indoor stacks – a simple sign “Danger, keep away. Risk of falling bales” is enough.
  • Monitor and record stacks for safety throughout the storage period, particularly outdoors. Do not site next to roads, farm tracks, etc. where vehicles and people regularly pass. Take remedial action as soon as any stacks appear unsafe.
  • Who owns the straw? If a contractor bales it and stacks it on your land then sells it himself, you could still be liable for any damage caused by the stack. Have a clear and concise written contract setting out each side’s responsibilities.

In Summary

The most important point is to consider the various fire and liability risks and to make decisions to try and minimise this risk. Put this risk assessment in writing.

A few hours spent on this will be time well-used – a fire can be disruptive to even the most well-managed business, as can any injury.

Mr Chateau

The lowdown on high net worth insurance


Barbara AdnitTIt is often said that a gentleman’s house is his castle – however, how many of us realise the true value of our ‘castles’, and whether they are correctly covered in the right insurance market?

Unfortunately only too often the true value is vastly under estimated and this will only be realised once a claim is intimated to your Insurers.

Farmers & Mercantile have dedicated Insurance Advisors with extensive knowledge of the household insurance market, specialising in the ‘High Net Worth’ sector, who are able to offer personalised advice to ensure that your home, and moreover your contents, such as Fine Art and valuables, are all suitably covered under the correct product, tailored to your individual needs.

High Net Worth policies offer benefits that go above and beyond the basic levels of cover provided under a ‘standard’ home policy, ensuring that your precious belongings are truly covered with a specialist insurer catering for the more discerning policyholder, with the minimum amount of fuss. In addition, and more importantly, with very few warranties being applied in respect of additional security or the imposition of having to install a safe etc., which of course can cause their own problems for busy farmers and their families, and lifestyle needs.

Most High Net Worth policies will provide the following added benefits:

  • Comprehensive tailor-made policies which cover virtually every eventuality for your home and the contents therein
  • New for Old cover as standard
  • Specialist cover for Fine Art, valuables and antiques, with high levels of single article limits for individual items
  • Family Legal Protection
  • Personal security advice and assistance, including identity fraud cover
  • Accidental damage to your home and contents
  • Worldwide cover as standard for theft, loss or damage to your possessions whilst temporarily removed from your home
  • Public and Employers Liability cover (especially pertinent for housekeepers, gardeners and handymen in your employ)
  • Cover for items kept in your outbuildings and gardens, including valuable statues, works of art and of course garden furniture
  • Personal money and bank cards
  • 24-hour home emergency cover
  • Personalised claims handlers in the event of a claim being notified

High Net Worth policies are specifically aimed at properties with sums insured at the higher end of the market, usually starting at the following levels:

  • Buildings £ 500,00
  • Contents, including valuables £150,000

If you are looking for a personal service, providing solid advice in this very niche market, then we will be more than pleased to assist you in securing the right policy for you at the right price.

Don’t let your castle become a ruin, purely because the wrong advice/policy has been sought.

This article was written by Barbara Adnitt


Engineering inspection service – Safety First

TractorAgriculture has one of the highest fatal injury statistics of any industry in Great Britain. According to the Health & Safety Executive, in the last 10 years almost one person a week has been killed as a direct result of agricultural work. Unwise risk-taking is an underlying problem within the industry and it can have devastating effects for those involved and their families. However much experience you have had with lifting equipment accidents can still happen, especially those involving machinery failures.

Our inspections aim to ensure that your lifting equipment complies with all mandatory PUWER & LOLER HSE standards. We compile a comprehensive report detailing preventative measures that can be taken to reduce not only the risk of serious injury, but also potential costly repairs.

Burning Barn

The Significance of change of use of farm buildings

Burning BarnMany farmers do not realise the importance of advising a change of use of their farm buildings and that the danger of not doing so could result in insurers repudiating a claim or voiding a policy altogether for non-disclosure.

When rating a farm policy, insurers take into consideration the risk of normal farm activities and processes. When, as a result of letting out farm buildings, as an example, there is a change to those activities e.g. car mechanics or furniture storage, the risks, in particular fire and theft, alter considerably. Insurers will therefore need to reassess the rates to be used and whether the new usage requires certain conditions to be met in order to agree to the risk and continue cover.

November Newsletter Front Cover

Winter Newsletter 2014


High Tech Theft Device

Are your high value cars and high tech tractors secure?

For some time criminals have been using technology on modern high value cars to overcome coded keys. They devised a technique which allows them to break into and drive away vehicles using a hi-tech device which can be easily bought on the internet to get inside.  They then use a second electronic device also easily bought available online, to re-programme a blank electronic key to start the vehicle. The whole process takes just minutes, and in some cases just a few seconds. (see device below)

High Tech Theft DeviceMany of the high value agricultural vehicles with coded keys are being stolen using the same technology. Amazingly the EU allowed legislation which enforced manufacturers to provide technical data, including the relevant security information, online.

Our advice is to therefore not rely solely upon such coded keys to prevent theft, but consider additional security. Using an immobiliser or at least some of the old fashioned prevention tools such as steering locks and ram stops, as well as dead mans handles can make all the difference. Whilst they may be old technology, they could be the only thing which prevents theft of your car from the drive or your essential machine from the yard at a key point in the year.