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Shoot Safety Paramount

As the 2014/15 shooting season draws to a close it is clear that, from grouse to partridges and pheasants, this season has been exceptional, with excellent grouse numbers, a fantastic breeding season for wild pheasants and partridges and many pheasant shoots are reporting an easier season retaining their birds, with good bags being recorded right up to the end of January.

However, the dangers of the sport remain and shoot safety, both on the shooting day but, as importantly, throughout the calendar year, needs to be at the forefront of all shoot owners’, shoot managers’ and keepers’ minds.

During the 2014 season, there was a tragic incident on an estate near Middlesbrough, where a shoot employee was killed whilst using a Kubota Type ATV to tow the game cart and collect the game. Unfortunately, the vehicle overturned and the driver was killed. At a recent hearing at Darlington Magistrates Court, we understand that the estate owner was fined £20,000 after being found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The vehicle was fitted with seatbelts and it became apparent that the driver had never been instructed to use them.

The Health and Safety inspector said “This was a tragic event that could so easily have been prevented. It is more likely that the use of the seatbelt would have saved the driver’s life. All-terrain vehicles are capable of travelling on very rough and steep ground but, if they do overturn, the driver needs to be retained in the cab. If the vehicle has doors, they should be shut and a seatbelt should be used.

It is important to follow manufacturer’s instructions and freely-available guidance from HSE when using any machinery, including the various types of workplace transport. The precautions necessary are largely common sense but employers or companies must make sure that all workers put them into practice as a matter of routine.”

We all have a duty to continually look for new ways to prevent accidents. Once the season has finished, it may be prudent to dust off the Health and Safety documentation and review the risks associated with shooting.

David Gray

To find out more about how GSC Grays can help with Health & Safety issues on Estates, shoots and farms please contact Phil Scott-Priestley tel: 01969 600120.

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