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Naturland requirements on health and safety

The agricultural sector employs an estimated 1.3 billion workers worldwide, which is nearly half of the world's labour force. Agriculture is one of the three most hazardous sectors of activity if it comes to fatalities, injuries and work-related ill-health.

Daniela Schröder, Naturland e.V.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates, at least 170,000 agricultural workers are killed each year. This means that workers in agriculture run twice the risk of dying on the job compared with workers in other sectors. If we take a closer look, we see that by its nature, agricultural work is physically demanding. The risk of accidents is increased by difficult terrain, poorly designed tools, exposure to extreme weather conditions, associated with working and living in remote and rural communities. Furthermore, in most countries only some categories of agricultural workers are covered by national legislation, employment injury benefits or insurance schemes. A large number of agricultural workers are thus deprived of any form of social protection.

Therefore, Naturland wants to improve the situation of those who are not covered by the national social security system granting them at least access to health benefits and additional nutrition benefits. According to the Naturland guidelines on Social Responsibility, members are responsible for health, safety and hygiene at the workplace. This includes:

1. Proper training of all employees (including daily and seasonal workers)

Before a proper training can be offered, you need to carry out workplace risk assessments and identify hazards in the workplace. Therefore, you should investigate topics such as ergonomics, which include prolonged static working positions or repetitive work. But also poor work organization topics such as badly organized shift work and working hours, excessive overtime or lone working can be a subject to risk health and safety and should be included in the risk assessment. Knowing the risks, a proper, documented training of staff - including seasonal and even daily workforce – should take place one a year. Every worker should know the risks of his particular work area and what to do in case of emergency. And of course, well-trained first aiders are part of safety at work.

Ergonomic issues and the right personal protective equipment are crucial. Source: Naturland e.V.

2. Maintenance of equipment and machinery

This category refers to routine inspection of machinery. But also Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), emergency devices such as fire extinguishers or first aid equipment belong here. They should always be up to date.

3. Policy on health and safety

In case you have more than ten workers, you need a policy on health and safety that provides comprehensive and relevant health and safety information to workers. It should include topics like identified hazards and assessed risks, establish clear procedures for serious and imminent dangers at work, show management commitment to actively putting it into effect and outline the structures to achieve the objectives. Also, the documentation of accidents and their follow-up belong in this category.

Please be aware of covering rotating parts of machinery and avoid tripping hazards. Source: Naturland e.V.

This plant has worked 560 days without accidents. Think safety first! Source: Naturland e.V.

4. Hygiene at the workplace

Rest rooms should be separated by gender and in good condition. This also applies for field toilets. To have a decent break, rooms should provide enough seats and tables. When outside, shade from the sun must also be provided.

Access to water must always be given, no matter if workers fill bottles at a starting point or if it is delivered onto the field via a mobile tank. In the case that your workers live on the farm, basic medical access, food and accommodation have to be provided according to the local standard. For inquiries or more information about health and safety at Naturland, please contact the corresponding team.

Just a few benefits of appropriate health and safety measurements are:

  • A reduction in injuries and ill health and the resulting financial and personal costs
  • Improved productivity, good morale and a happier, healthier workforce
  • Longer life for equipment and machinery

This text is a translation. No guarantee can be given for the correctness.


Daniela Schröder is part of the team Fair & Social Responsibility, and together with her colleague Thomas Beutler responsible for the worldwide implementation and training of the Naturland Social Responsibility guidelines.