The 10 biggest hazards associated with pheasant rearing

1.     ‘Bird Breeder’s Lung’

Initial, short term indications that you may be allergic to dust from the feathers and droppings of birds are tightness in the chest, regular headaches and breathlessness. These symptoms will disappear if you avoid exposure to the allergens, however if you do not take measures to protect yourself, long term serious illness may develop. Disorders such as asthma, bronchitis and ‘Bird Breeder’s Lung’ are potentially life-threatening and pose a risk to your employment. As an employer, you must supply protective equipment to your staff to ensure compliance to health and safety regulations.

2.     Lone working

Considerations must be paid to the employee who is expected to work alone. These should include; assessing the risk of violence, manual handling, medical suitability to be alone and specific environmental risks associated with the duties. In addition to these considerations, procedures should be put in place for keeping in touch with supervisors and raising the alarm should it be necessary. It would be advantageous to avoid lone working conditions, but where this is not possible, emergency procedures should planned, practiced and regularly evaluated.

3.     Gas brooders

Where gas brooders are put in place a suitable and adequate air flow and ventilation system must also be in place. There is a reasonable risk to bird breeders of carbon monoxide poisoning when gas brooders are in use. The Health and Safety Executive issued specific warnings on this risk: Flame failure devices should also be inspected and reported if any defects are found. These devices prevent the escape of un-burned fuel into the environment, reducing the risk of ignition and suffocation.

4.     Lyme disease

Lyme disease is contracted via a bite from an infected tick. The initial symptoms are treated easily with antibiotics and can identified as a faint ring shaped rash around the site of the bite, developing into intermittent flu-like symptoms. Left untreated Lyme disease can become a very serious illness.

5.     Weil’s disease – leptospirosis

This illness is contracted from contact between cuts and abrasions and the infected urine of rats. High risk areas include feed stores, hay and straw storage facilities and farm bird enclosures. Symptoms to be aware of include feverishness and headaches and left untreated may be fatal. Employers should make all staff aware of the hazards and issue leptospirosis medical contact cards to all staff that are at risk.

6.     Off road transport

Training should be provided, particularly if the terrain is steep sloped or especially rough, or when the employee will be towing loads. All safety equipment must be provided by the employer and meet specific standards. It is the responsibility of the employee to make use of it, for example wearing seatbelts and helmets. Vehicles must be kept in good working order and comply to licensing laws and when trailing loads behind vehicles such as quad bikes, the employee must not exceed the safety guidelines provided in training.

7.     Steam cleaners and pressure washers

Electrical equipment that use water pose risks of electrocution to the operator. Steam cleaners and pressure washers should be used with a circulating current earth monitoring device, or a residual current device (RCD) sometimes called an ELCB. These devices should be fitted at the mains supply point, protected by a waterproof cover. Regular inspections of the earthing devices, cables, switches and connectors should be made, checking they are watertight and un-damaged. PAT checks should be up to date and certified with date stickers on all electrical appliances.

8.     Electrical safety

Other than making sure PAT check procedures are followed, the user of electrical equipment must ensure the appliance is fit for purpose – that it is suitable for use in the chosen environment. It is the responsibility of the user to perform visual checks over the cables, switches and connections before each use and that any defects are reported immediately.

9.     Personal protection equipment (PPE)

Clothing offering protection from the weather and from specific hazards such as guns and respiratory illness legally required to be provided by you as an employer. If the staff are to be working in exposed environments such as moorland, emergency survival equipment should also be provided. All PPE must be kept in good condition and stored correctly and any instructions for the use must be followed.

10. Guns

The law on safe use of guns sates that ‘employers and people who conduct an undertaking involving the use of guns have a legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to take all reasonably practicable measures so that no one is put at risk’. The safe use of guns is imperative and is detailed in the Health and Safety executive’s document:

The essential reason for highlighting these main points is to make you, as an employer of farm and estate staff aware of the main risks your employees could be under, when working for you. It is also essential that your business is compliant to Health and Safety law at all times to protect the safety and wellbeing of your staff.

The risks detailed in this blog are not the only risks associated with rearing farm birds. The Health and Safety Executive Document, ‘Game Keeping and Deer Farming’, goes into greater detail and can be found here:




Prevention is better than criminal law. Landed Estate Trustees personally liable for criminal health and safety prosecutions

Any person who holds property, authority, or a position of trust or responsibility for the benefit of another is a trustee. Also a trustee can be a person who is allowed to do certain tasks but not able to gain income (Wikipedia). For this reason, many Landed Estates choose to appoint solicitors as trustees.

Landed Estate trustees may not be aware that they could be personally liable for a criminal prosecution should any employee, visitor or contracted service provider be injured or killed on the estate.

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 means that companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter or homicide (in Scotland) if its activities are managed or organised in such a way that

  1. Causes a person’s death, and
  2. Amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased.

The introduction of the act makes an organisation liable if a fatality results from the way in which its activities are managed or organised.  Corporate manslaughter is an extremely serious offence, reserved for the very worst cases of corporate mismanagement leading to death.  Courts will look at management systems and practices across the organisation, and whether an adequate standard of care was applied to the fatal activity.

Juries will be required to consider the extent to which an organisation was in breach of health and safety requirements, and how serious those failings were. 

They will also be able to consider wider cultural issues within the organisation, such as attitudes or practices that tolerated health and safety breaches.

You cannot insure against a criminal prosecution

There are two types of law, criminal law that enforces a code of conduct and allows the state to punish and civil law which enables an individual who has suffered harm to seek compensation or an injunction to prevent harm (or further harm) from occurring.

You can insure against the costs of a civil law suit, such as negligence, but not against a criminal offence.

Health and Safety prevention

It is imperative that trustees ensure there is adequate health and safety in place not only for their direct employees and visitors but that their contractors also have robust policies in place, so hire from an approved list of contractors that have provided evidence that they comply and enforce all health and safety requirements.

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain.  Under the Act, employer’s duties include:

  1. Protect health, safety and welfare of employees;
  2. Provide and maintain safe systems of work;
  3. Ensure safety in the use, handling, storage and transportation of articles and substances;
  4. Provide information, supervision and training;
  5. Provide safe places/environment for work, with safe access and egress;
  6. Provide adequate welfare facilities and arrangements;
  7. If five or more people are employed at any one time for a single undertaking – produce written health and safety policy;
  8. Protect people not in their employment that may be affected by their operations;
  9. Consult safety representatives and establish a safety committee when requested by two or more safety representatives;
  10. Provide free of charge items required by statutory provisions.
  11. Employees’ duties include:
  • Take reasonable care for themselves and others who might be affected by their acts or omissions;
  • Cooperate with their employer or other person so far as is necessary to enable them to comply with their own statutory duties and requirements;
  • Not intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety or welfare.

Since 1974 a ‘Six Pack’ of regulations have developed that enact a number of European Union Directives.  The regulations are:

  1. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – MHSWR;
  2. Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) regulations 1992 WHSWR;
  3. Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) regulations 1992 – DSE;
  4. Personal Protective Equipment at Work regulations 1992 – PPE;
  5. Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 – MHOR;
  6. Provision and Use of Work Equipment regulations 1998 – PUWER.

So what impact does this have on modern landed estates?

Trustees must ensure that written risk assessments cover each aspect of the estate and any public access and that third party liability insurance is in place. And it is imperative that all estates must write and implement a robust health and safety report which is kept under constant review. This will not only limit the chances of injury or death but will minimise the risks of a criminal prosecution due to gross negligence.




Fire Safety (Regulatory Reform) Order 2005

It is 10 years since the Fire Risk Assessment became a legal requirement


The person responsible for completing the Fire Risk Assessment is the owner or occupier of the premises.

The risk assessment should be completed by a competent person and be suitable and sufficient. That means that it needs to have considered all of the hazards including those relating to third parties and to have identified the appropriate control measures.

Within a farm or estate context that usually means prioritising, for example areas where people congregate, where hot works or chemicals are stored – including workshops, fan houses, chemical stores or staff welfare facilities.

It is important to understand the responsibilities of others such as commercial tenants where they occupy buildings or parking and loading areas within the yard. Each tenant has a responsibility to conduct a Fire Risk Assessment of the area that they occupy.

As the landlord you should note that obligation within the tenancy agreement and ensure that the tenant supplies you with a copy of their Fire Risk Assessment.

Where there are multiple tenants in one yard or where they share access to the site and particularly where they are immediately adjacent to one another you as the landlord should be coordinating the emergency plan for the site. Whilst this plan is important to be able to produce evidence of compliance it is also essential in order to enable for you to provide information to the fire service and to get the fire fought as quickly and effectively as possible.

The Fire Risk Assessment should form the basis for developing any emergency plans that may be required to inform employees and third parties of what to do in the event of a fire.

It is likely that the completion of a Fire Risk Assessment is a requirement of your insurance policy detailed somewhere in the small print. Failure to have and to maintain a suitable and sufficient Fire Risk Assessment can render your policy null and void.

 Download the FRAS Five key steps, fill in the check list and assess your fire risk and plan fire safety

 Capture FRAS 5 steps and checklist 

OCD December 2015

Safety Revolution Ltd ©






Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Fertiliser Storage

Firstly, you must ensure that you store all fertilisers safely.

Special requirements apply for the storage of ammonium nitrate (AN) fertiliser. As an oxidising agent, it can help other materials to burn and in certain circumstances it can explode and give off toxic fumes.

  • Storage buildings should be constructed of non-combustible material and should not contain other combustible materials.
  • Where this is not reasonably practicable, store AN fertilisers as far away as possible from combustible materials and never within 2m of them.
  • If you are storing  over 25 tonnes of dangerous substances or 150 tonnes or more of AN (where the nitrogen content exceeds 15.75% by weight), you must notify your local Fire & Rescue Service.

Further details of notification requirements can be found here.

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Working on or passing near to fragile roofing material

You will need to provide protection when anyone passes by or works nearer than 2 m to fragile materials, eg during access along valley gutters in a fragile roof, when an otherwise non-fragile roof contains fragile roof lights, or during access to working areas on a fragile roof.

You should:

  • wherever possible, make sure that all fragile materials (eg 2 m or closer to the people at risk) are securely covered; or
  • provide full edge protection (top rail, intermediate guard rail or equivalent and toe board) around or along the fragile material to prevent access to it. Make sure you take precautions when installing such protection, eg use appropriate netting.

If it is not reasonably practicable to provide such protection:

  • use safety nets or harnesses but make sure workers are trained and competent in their installation and use. If the building structure is unsuited to netting or harnesses (eg too low), a well-built and suitably sized bale stack close to the underside of the fragile roof being worked on will reduce the risk of injury if someone does fall through the roof.