Crash, Bang, Wallop: The shooting season is here again.

For the fortunate, the shooting season is already underway with the grouse season now upon us. Those interested will have to wait a little longer before the partridge shooting really gets going and the prospect of 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 2019/20 season? 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. However, 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 even where nobody is employed. If anything should go wrong, sight of the documents will be one of the first requests from the Health & Safety Executive. It is not a good start to the investigation if those documents do not exist. Any necessary agreements with the landowner should also be in place and documented.

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, where they are fitted, when using ATV type vehicles.

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.

Tom Wills is an Agricultural and Land lawyer at law firm Sintons. Anyone who would like to discuss legal or rural matters can contact him at or on 0191 226 3796.

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