This week is Farm Safety Week (19-23 July 2021)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has set out a list of the hazards to lungs in the farming and agriculture sector.

Chest problems, and ultimately work-related (occupational) lung disease, may occur as a result of breathing in dust vapours or chemicals from:

  • harvesting or handling grain, or mixing animal feedstuffs
  • feeding animals
  • handling mouldy hay or bedding and waste products from animals or poultry
  • slurry, silage
  • welding fume
  • some veterinary medicines and disinfectants

Risks include being exposed to dusts, vapours or chemicals at work for just a short time that may cause unpleasant irritation or inflammation in the nose, throat or lungs.

Longer exposure may lead to more serious chest problems and lung diseases, including asthma, chronic bronchitis and farmer’s lung.

These symptoms can be short-lived at the time of a job, or they may get worse and last longer until they are almost always present. They can be set off by even small exposures to any substance to which you have become allergic, or sensitised.

Controlling the hazards, avoid breathing in harmful substances by:

  • using alternative, safer substances where possible
  • changing to low dust materials, e.g. granules or pellets
  • enclosing sources of dust or spray
  • vacuuming spillages instead of sweeping them up

Reduce the amount you breathe in by:

  • using local exhaust ventilation (LEV) e.g. when welding
  • using effective filters in tractor or vehicle cabs
  • maintaining filters to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • improving ventilation in buildings
  • wearing appropriate, effective respiratory protective equipment (RPE)

All masks and respirators must be CE marked.

For more information on personal protective equipment (PPE), go to the HSE website.

Sheila Ramshaw is an Associate in the Regulatory Services department at Sintons. To speak to Sheila about this or any other matter, contact her on 0191 226 3739 or

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