Farm Safety Notice

Engineering Inspection Requirements

Farm Safety Notice“Only people I employ drive my machines so I don’t need an engineering inspection. My insurance will cover me if there is an accident.”

A categorical no. This is a very commonly held misconception. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulations apply to everyone, whether you are self-employed, an employee or an owner operator. Any item of lifting machinery used on-farm should be inspected by a competent person to comply with the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) 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, and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) which includes the condition of the tyres; footbrake and handbrake operation; steering; cab and/or safety frame; and chassis.

Whilst your insurance may protect you against an accident on-farm, it will be unable to protect you against a prosecution or fine from the HSE. More and more farmers are being asked by the HSE to produce valid inspection certificates, even where the reason for the HSE being on-farm 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 and have recently been called out to two farms in the Shropshire area to carry out urgent inspections at request of the HSE.

A thorough inspection of your lifting machinery can be likened to an MOT and needs to be carried out annually. A thorough examination and a detailed report will in most cases lead to much lower repair costs than if signs of wear or a small fault go undetected. Although most machines need to be inspected annually, it is important to note that man work platforms need to be inspected every 6 months along with the telehandler or forklift used to lift the platform.

By having your machines inspected you are ensuring good housekeeping, giving you peace of mind that you are doing everything possible to safeguard the well being of your employees and defend yourself against the risk of prosecution.


Environmental Impairment Liability

Q We recently had a hose burst on our sprayer whilst driving down the road.   Luckily we only had clean water in the sprayer.  It worried me however just what the situation would have been if chemicals had been in the sprayer and we were presented with a large bill for clean-up costs and damage to flora and fauna: would our insurance have covered this?

Written by: Nigel Wellings, founding director, Farmers & Mercantile

AFirst, you must report any potential pollution incident to the Environment Agency, it is a criminal offence not to do so.  Upon being notified of an incident the Environment Agency will visit the potentially polluted site, advise on clean-up and reinstatement procedure, and call in the necessary specialist contractors to clean up any contamination and stop further damage being caused.   All of the costs associated with this will then be passed on to you as the owner of the sprayer. Our experience of the size of farm-related pollution claims over the last two years ranges from £3,000 to £1m.

WelderMost farmers may automatically assume that their farm liability insurance policy will pick up all of the costs involved.   Unfortunately in many instances this is not the case, although insurance cover for environmental incidents on farm has been dramatically improved over the last few years by some insurers.

The implementation of the environmental liability directive in March 2009 placed onerous conditions on farmers and landowners and some insurers reacted quickly to ensure that full cover was provided.  However other insurers offer varying degrees of environmental liability insurance cover, some quite limited, and in many cases they refuse to deal with potential claims involving chemicals, or more worrying, chemicals being transported.

It is absolutely essential that your insurance adviser understands the exact environmental risks facing your farming business and that he/she has then fully advised you as to what is the most appropriate policy for you.   Sadly this complicated area of environmental law is often not well enough understood so make sure your adviser is sufficiently experienced.

Along with chemical and liquid fertiliser discharges, the other most common environmental claim we see is for escape of diesel into a watercourse following theft of diesel.   Again the clean-up costs associated can be high but it is essential that you inform the Environment Agency of any such incident rather than have it traced back to you.   Levels of insurance cover for this type of incident can vary greatly between different insurers so check yours and make sure your cover matches the level of risk you are willing to take.

This article was published in Farmers Weekly Business Clinic in Jan 2015

Young Drivers

Insuring young drivers – beware the minefield

Q Our 17 year old son wants to start driving. What is the best approach on insurance?

Written by: Nigel Wellings, founding director, Farmers & Mercantile

A As a farmer’s son or daughter approaches the age of 17, both child and parents look forward to the fact that the young person will be able to drive farm cars and small commercial vehicles on the road as well as perhaps purchasing their own vehicle.

BUT beware of the minefield that awaits in terms of insuring cars and commercial vehicles for young drivers.   Statistics that all insurers have access to show quite clearly that drivers aged between 17-25 are many times more likely to have a major accident than drivers older than 25.   Because of this greatly increased level of risk young driver premiums are much higher.   Statistics also show that the cost of young driver claims (because they often involve personal injury to passengers) is also much higher.

Young DriversAgainst this backdrop it is crucial that you discuss with your insurance broker prior to purchasing a vehicle for your children the best way to insure them and the potential costs.

The most crucial point is that you must disclose to insurers which vehicles you wish your children to drive and whether they are main, regular or occasional drivers.   Do not in any way be tempted to withhold this information, even on a fleet policy with Any Licensed Driver cover.   Insurers would be quite within their rights to turn down a claim for an undisclosed 18 year old driver.   Claiming mother or father is the main driver of a vehicle when it is really a son or daughter will also result in a claim being turned down.

You will also need to be realistic about the type of vehicle insurers will be willing to permit young drivers to drive.   High grouped performance cars and luxury four- wheel drive vehicles are a complete no go.

One of the most common discussions we have with farming parents is whether to insure children’s vehicles on the farm fleet policy or, as soon as they get their first vehicle, to have a stand-alone policy in their own name.   There are pros and cons to both approaches such as:

  • if insuring a young driver’s car on the farm fleet and it is involved in a major accident it could increase the cost of the overall farm fleet cover
  • if the young driver insures a vehicle separately they will build up their own no claims discount
  • farm fleet insurers will limit the usage of a vehicle by a young driver.   For instance, if the young person is going away to college/university and takes the car with them, insurers will not necessarily want to cover this alteration to the risk.

The golden rules therefore for insuring young drivers are as follows:

  • disclose young drivers and discuss in advance with your broker.   Do the research and obtain alternative young driver quotes.
  • be realistic – farm insurers do not want to insure 18 year olds on a new Range Rover or Porsche 911.
    be prepared  – premiums are considerable but will come down with age and a good driving record.
  • don’t cut corners and try to hide young drivers.   The cost of this could be very high.

This article was published in Farmers Weekly Business Clinic in Sept 2014

Barn Fire

Tenants Occupation & why it affects your insurance

Q I have been approached by an established business which wants to rent one of my farm buildings, what do I need to do about insurance?

Written by: Nigel Wellings, founding director, Farmers & Mercantile

Barn FireA Farmers and landowners need to fully consider the risk and insurance implications before jumping into any such a venture – they can have serious implications for insurance not only of the building in  question but sometimes for the whole farm.

First, what does the lease or tenancy document say? Most commonly the person letting out a building will be responsible for insuring the fabric of the building while a tenant will insure his property such as tools and stock inside it.

It is vital to disclose to your insurer that the buildings are no longer being used for farming purposes and that they will be let.   The occupation of the tenant and the processes being carried out in the let building must also be fully disclosed to insurers.   For instance, if you have let a building to a car repairer who is spray painting cars, the risk is much increased over say the storage of building materials.

Paint spraying carries an explosion and fire risk that insurers will probably want to survey to ensure it is managed properly.   They are likely to charge a much higher rate on a building used for paint spraying than one used for the storage of building materials.   If the building is not fully separated from others it could also affect the premium on other buildings due to potential fire spread.

It is essential that you have discussed with your broker the potential insurance ramifications of any proposed tenant.  As the landlord you must be aware of exactly what your let buildings are being used for.   We have come across cases where stolen goods and explosives were being stored and drugs were being produced because the landlord had never inspected the building.

In an extreme case we have seen insurers refuse to insure a whole farm because they are concerned about the risk posed by one tenant.

Another potential problem area is the use of heating by the tenant in a building let as non-heated.   The use of portable propane heaters will generally invalidate any insurance policy.   Any form of heating must be disclosed to insurers.   Fixed types of heating are commonly acceptable to insurers  however, make sure you discuss with your broker.

Gas bottles such as propane and butane are another common problem area.   In the event of a fire they can go off like a bomb and the fire brigade will not enter burning buildings containing them, leaving other tenants and perhaps parts of the farm business with little protection.   Gas bottles are best stored outside in a lockable steel cage.

You also need to be mindful of waste build-up that tenants might produce – wooden pallets, sawdust and scrap metal are all of concern to insurers as they tend to increase both fire and theft risk.

The last thing that you need is increased premiums or worse still, your own insurance being invalidated because of a tenant.  However the points above are only an overview of some of the important issues to consider.

The golden rule is to discuss possible ramifications with your broker/insurer before tenants take up occupation and thereafter be aware of their activity on an ongoing basis, including obligating them to notify you of any changes.


This article was published in Farmers Weekly Business Clinic in May/June 2014


Product Liability Insurance for Farmers

Question I have £5m of product liability included in my farm insurance but my farm consultant says it should be at least £10m. Is he right?

Answer Products liability cover protects the policyholder from the cost of claims arising where products that he sells from his farm cause injury or illness to a person or persons, or damage to someone else’s property.

MaizeIt is important to understand that it differs from public liability insurance in that the indemnity limit is per year of insurance rather than per claim.

Products liability claims that we have seen include:-

  • milk sold from the farm containing antibiotics and subsequently contaminating a full vat at the dairy
  • hay sold from the farm containing glass and causing injury to a prize racehorse
  • grain contaminated with rat bait contaminating a whole silo at the mill
  • eggs sold infected with salmonella poisoning consumers
  • livestock sold carrying a disease which is then passed on to other livestock

These claims are more and more common and increasingly likely to be pursued. Products liability insurance for a farm is usually included alongside your existing public liability insurance with a similar indemnity limit, commonly £5m.

However with claim levels increasing you do need to consider increasing this to £10m, depending on what type of produce you sell but especially if you are supplying retailers or food manufacturers.

It is important to understand your cover and any exclusions or conditions – insurers will only cover your legal liability under the laws of England and Wales and often exclude products sold to America or Canada as the risk of litigation is considered higher.

Also, insurers do not provide cover for any liability that you take on as part of a contract.   For instance, if you are supplying a supermarket or food manufacturer read the terms of the contract very carefully. Liabilities placed on you as part of that contract may go beyond that provided by normal product liability insurance.

Specialist covers such as product recall (when a retailer has to remove a product from its shelves because of a problem caused by your product) or financial loss cover can be provided where your product causes a financial loss but not physical injury or damage (for example – supplying the wrong variety of grain on a seed contract, resulting in the end user not receiving a milling or malting premium).

These insurances tend to be expensive so the most important point is to understand the terms of your contract, especially what you can be held liable for.   Show a copy of your policy to your insurance broker and ask them to explain clearly what will be covered by your existing public and products liability cover.

This article was written by Nigel Wellings and was published in the Business Clinic of Farmers Weekly 10th July 2014

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

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.

Country Home in Autumn Morning

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.

Country Home in Autumn MorningMost 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