Safety guide for farmers setting up their own shop
Opening a farm shop can be an attractive proposition for a farmer – opening up new markets and gaining an additional income stream which cuts out the middleman.
The growth in public demand for locally-produced food and drink has been matched by a growing number of producers offering products which come with their own unique origin stories.
And farm shops have a major role to play in this. But farmers who are considering setting up their own farm shop have to adhere to the rules and regulations that allow them to set up shop legally and safely.
Parking and transport
Customers coming onto your farm will ideally be able to leave their car in an off-road car park away from farm traffic.
Clear road markings and signage will enable cars to enter and exit the site while keeping pedestrians separate and safe. Good lighting and level, non-slip pathways will also create a safer environment particularly during winter.
In areas where there is likely to be a high level of pedestrian movement such as immediately outside the entrance, consider providing barriers or bollards which exclude vehicles from the area.
A full fire risk assessment should be a priority as it will help identify and control any hazards.
Other aspects to consider include:
- Reduce the number of potential ignition sources and restrict smoking to designated external areas.
- Keep stock levels low and remove waste such as packaging from the site regularly.
- Arrange for regular inspections of the electrical installations by a competent electrician.
- Fan heaters can overheat if overused and it is dangerous to place them under cash tills where it can get congested and combustible items such as carrier bags and till rolls are often stored.
- The use of extension leads for displays should be minimised and fully uncoiled to operate safely.
- Keep all store rooms, corridors and stairs free from clutter, stored goods and combustible material.
- Provide firefighting equipment such as portable fire extinguishing appliances and have them maintained by competent contractors.
- Provide a wired-in, automatic fire detection and alarm system or, for very small shops, use simple smoke detectors and manual alarms such as air horns.
- Use standard signage to indicate the location of fire extinguishing appliances, fire escape routes, emergency exits, fire call points, fire assembly points etc.
- For larger sites consider the need for emergency lighting or an alternative light source to use in case of an electrical failure (such as a torch).
- Ensure all gas fuelled appliances and associated pipework is regularly checked by a competent Gas Safe Registered engineer.
- Portable heaters, particularly those using bottled gas, are often unsuitable as they can be knocked over, bumped into or get very hot to the touch. If your insurer has agreed to their use, always use with a proprietary guard and keep combustible goods and people well away.
Shop areas need to be kept clean and tidy. There should be sufficient space between displays to allow people to move freely and safely. Try to keep designated walkways so that all staff know not to store items in areas where they may cause an obstruction.
Clean up any spillages immediately and try to dry out any surfaces which may become slippery as well as placing warning signs nearby.
All product displays need to be stored in a stable manner and any shelving must be strong enough to support the displayed goods.
Remember that children may be present in the shop and so it is important to consider items at low level which may cause them harm.
Strains from manual handling are common in retail. Try to reduce the risk of manual handling injuries occurring by:
- Keeping the size of stored goods to a minimum
- Storing heavy items at a low level
- Moving items with mechanical handling equipment where possible (forklift trucks, sack trucks, pallet trucks, etc.)
- Training staff in good lifting technique.
All food premises must register with their local Environmental Health Department. Food premises registration is free of charge and must be renewed on change of ownership.
All food businesses must have a written food safety management system in place. You can produce your own food safety management system however the Food Standards Agency have developed a pack called ‘Safer Food Better Business’ which you can complete and use for this purpose.
If you handle open food, for example in a butchery or have a deli counter, it is important that you consider the food safety issues in more depth than detailed in this guidance.
Download a copy of our Farm Shop safety guide.
The information provided in this guidance is a brief overview of a diverse work activity. This activity may require further assessment and consultancy work completing to ensure statutory compliance.
NFU Mutual Risk Management Services can provide additional support in this area using one of its specialist in-house consultants who are based around the UK.
Contact your local NFU Mutual Agent for more information.