Crash bang wallop the shooting season is here again

For the fortunate, the shooting season is well underway. For many of us, the coming of October heralds the prospect of addressing the partridges and happy days to come on the pheasants.

What will this season bring? I would guess that sometime, somewhere, it will bring a repeat of incidents that we have seen in previous seasons: over turned beaters’ trailers, rolled quads, blown barrels, vehicular crashes of varying severity, broken limbs and cardiac arrest.

Are you ready? Have you revisited your Health & Safety Policy and Risk Assessment for the 2016/17 season? Vehicles and trailers should be insured, maintained and fit for purpose. The Health and Safety Executive has produced a very useful information sheet covering the transportation of people in farm trailers (AIS no36). A recent court case highlighted the need to use seat belts when using ATV type vehicles where they are fitted.

It is a legal requirement that all operations that employ five or more people, this includes part time employees such as beaters, have a written H&S Policy and Risk Assessment in place, but all employers are legally obliged to carry out an assessment I would strongly recommend that all shoots go through the process and keep the documents up to date. Any necessary agreements with the Landowner should also be in place and documented.

One particular area to consider is communications. It is likely that all key personnel will have mobile phones, but do they actually work across the shoot terrain? They can be worse than useless, so other systems should be considered. Can the Emergency Services locate the site and where could a helicopter land? If all eventualities have been considered, risks can be minimised and incidents can be managed efficiently.

Putting the documents together in the first instance does seem like a chore, but there are plenty of templates available to help you. You will probably find that much of the process is similar to what you actually do when planning a shoot day. The difference being that the process is formally recorded and signed off by the key personnel. Once in place, it is a simple task to review and update on an annual basis.

If you would like any further information or to discuss any rural related matter, please contact Tom Wills, head of the agriculture & estates department at Sintons.

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