Farm building and maintenance work, in particular working at height, can be very dangerous. With this in mind, farmers need to ensure that all work is carried out in a safe manner.

Some of the largest liability claims FBD Insurance handles on its farm policies relate to farm building and maintenance accidents. As appropriate, it’s important to get competent and insured contractors to carry out the work.

FBD, Teagasc and the HSA (Health and Safety Authority) have produced a ‘Build in Safety’ advisory booklet for farmers which is available here.

According to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013, for projects that are scheduled to last more than 30 days, involve more than one contractor or involve a particular risk, it is a legal duty for a farmer (the client – the person for whom the project is being carried out) to appoint, in writing, a competent project supervisor for the design process (PSDP) and a project supervisor for the construction stage (PSCS).

The PSCS is responsible for safety during the construction process.

Precautions for working at height

Falls from heights are the main cause of fatalities and serious injury when maintenance and repair work is carried out. Therefore, it is essential that every precaution is taken to ensure the safety of all persons working at height.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 (Part 4, Work at Height) is based on a risk assessment approach and requires that the selection process for selecting the most appropriate equipment for a particular activity takes into account the hierarchy of controls:

  1. Firstly to avoid work at height where possible;
  2. Then to prevent falls from height; and failing that,
  3. To reduce the consequences of a fall.

Proper safety measures

It must be ensured that:

  • All work at height is properly planned, organised, supervised and carried out safely;
  • The place where work at height is being carried out is safe;
  • All work at height takes account of weather conditions;
  • Those involved in work at height are instructed and trained;
  • Equipment for work at height is carefully selected and appropriately inspected;
  • Give collective protection measures (e.g. guard rails) priority over personal protection measures (e.g. safety harnesses);
  • The risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled;
  • Injury from falling objects is prevented.

When carrying out work at height, always ensure that there is a safe means of access. If a ladder is used, ensure that it is in good condition, footed, secured at the top and extends at least one metre above the roof access level.

Use good crawl or roof ladders as appropriate, and always have a system of fall prevention or fall protection in place. For more extensive work at height, the use of scaffold or a cherry picker (MEWP) may be more appropriate.


Before carrying out construction work, it is vital that appropriate insurances are arranged to provide farmers with protection against any legal liability they may have in the event of an accident, on the construction site to any person, whether they be direct employees, employees of contractors, delivery persons to the site or indeed members of the public.

Just because a farmer employs contractors to do a job, who have their own insurances, that insurance may not protect the farmer regarding any legal liability he or she may have, if drawn into a claim arising from an accident for which the farm owner may be deemed responsible, or partially responsible for.

FBD Insurance Farm Multiperil clients with existing employers and public liability insurance in place are afforded protection for farm outbuilding construction work under their farm multi-peril policy as standard.

The following categories of construction works are covered if farming clients are deemed legally liable for an incident giving rise to a claim:

  • Maintenance and repair of outbuildings;
  • Alterations or extensions of existing outbuildings;
  • New farm outbuilding construction projects.

FBD understands that farm outbuilding construction is a core activity of maintaining and developing a farm and as such, is covered as standard under all FBD Farm Multiperil policies, where it may be excluded by other insurers.

It’s important to note that not all policies are the same, each individual policy wording will contain specific terms, conditions and exclusions, so it is essential to familiarise yourself with your policy.

FBD Insurance strongly encourages farmers to engage fully insured competent contractors to carry out works of this nature. In addition, FBD Insurance are happy to check contractor’s insurance details at no charge. Contact your local FBD Insurance branch for more information.

Get a 15% discount on a new farm policy with FBD when you or a family member have an existing policy with FBD. For more information on how you can save on your farm insurance click here.

FBD Insurance Group Ltd. trading as FBD Insurance is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Farm Insurance is underwritten by FBD Insurance plc.