How to protect staff and produce at farmers markets

Keeping staff, food and customers safe is a priority when selling at farmers’ markets.

NFU Mutual technical manager, Nathan Brew, highlights five key areas of concern for farmers.

See also: Dos and dont’s for starting a diversification this year

1. Transport

  • Ensure your transportation vehicle is well maintained and fit for purpose.
  • Consider whether or not you need refrigerated storage – if so, make sure you know what fuel is required to safely power this.
  • Have adequate risk assessment paperwork in place – many accidents happen as a result of interaction with tailgate lifts and flatbed trailers and falls from height.

2. Fire hazards

  • Ask the market organisers to provide a fire safety briefing for the site – ensure both you and any workers are familiarised with any hazards and control measures in place.
  • Make sure any canopy complies with British standard.
  • Keep the stall and immediate surrounding area free from rubbish and do not permit smoking.
  • Have a small, dry powder fire extinguisher to hand and ensure that it is in date.
  • Use modern, well maintained extension leads if necessary but limit use.

3. Manual handling

  • Where possible, keep the size of boxes to a minimum.
  • Store heavier items at the bottom of the vehicle bed.
  • Ensure workers are confident with good lifting techniques.
  • When moving heavy items, use suitable mechanical equipment such as sack trucks and trolleys.
  • Consider whether you need to wear and provide protective footwear when moving heavier loads.

4. The stall

  • Keep your stall and surrounding area clear of any rubbish or clutter.
  • If a market takes place during winter months, ensure the area is well lit and keep torches in case of lighting failure.
  • Consider items at child height which could cause injury or damage.
  • Clear up any breakages or spillages immediately.
  • Ensure both produce and marketing materials are stored safely and securely to avoid falling or collapsing.
  • In case of an injury or accident, record the names and telephone numbers of any witnesses – this could be invaluable in helping your insurer defend claims of negligence.

5. Food safety

  • Register with your local environment health department – this is compulsory for all food outlets.
  • Ensure food is labelled with a description, weights and sales-units as well as ingredients and allergy advice, where appropriate.
  • Have a written food management system in place. You can produce your own plan; however, the Food Standards Agency has developed a pack called Safer Food, Better Business which can be used for this.
  • Ascertain anyone handling open food has, at least, basic food hygiene training.
  • Make sure hand-washing facilities are available and store any cleaning products safely.

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