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The statistics around farm fatalities and workplace injuries are truly sobering.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), agriculture, forestry, and fishing had a fatal injury rate last year that was 21 times higher than the national average. This sector also recorded the second-highest number of fatalities of any industry and the highest percentage of non-fatal workplace injuries, with roughly 9,000 incidents—equivalent to 3,730 per 100,000 agricultural workers.

At a recent farm safety day in Leicestershire, Phillip Smith, a senior health and safety consultant at NFU Mutual Risk Management Services, expressed concern that the actual situation might be worse than these figures suggest. He referenced an HSE paper indicating that while 95% of serious accidents in most industries are reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, this figure could be as low as 17% in agriculture.

However, there are several simple measures that can be implemented on farms to improve safety, reduce these numbers, and advance the industry.


To comply with HSE regulations, all farm equipment should be well-maintained, serviced, and in good working condition, advised Mr. Smith. Farm managers should prioritise checking equipment that could cause serious injury if it malfunctions, such as feed mixers, straw choppers, or PTO shafts on tractors.

Using Tilly Trailer tests is recommended, and if this isn’t feasible, at least ensure the brakes are tested on-farm, referring to the manual as a minimum. Reading equipment manuals is also advised to ensure proper understanding of machinery, and staff should document this.

“Different people have different training needs,” Mr. Smith said. “Treat them like adults, provide the specific training they need, and have them sign off on it.”

Moving Vehicles

Installing convex mirrors on building corners can significantly improve visibility on farms. Additionally, using maps to mark where buildings, vehicles, and pedestrians are typically located can help. For areas where vehicles and pedestrians intersect, additional safety measures should be implemented.

Some larger businesses in the fresh produce sector with high staff numbers are already setting specific time periods for vehicle movements and timed breaks for workers to cross on foot. “Around 60% of all work-related tractor accidents occur when a vehicle is reversing,” Mr. Smith noted. Visibility behind tractors is poor, so workers should avoid being within 10 meters of a reversing vehicle.

Implementing Safe Stop practices, designed by the agricultural industry to reduce deaths, is also crucial:

  • Engage handbrake
  • Controls in neutral
  • Switch off engine
  • Remove key

Mr. Smith acknowledged some minor exceptions but emphasised that machinery must be turned off if work involves any moving parts. “You have to be pragmatic about how you work with machinery,” he stated.

Slurry Lagoons

Slurry pits and lagoons pose significant safety risks due to gases and soft, permeable surfaces. Rob Cross, a rural crime officer for Leicestershire Police, recounted an incident where a dog walker nearly drowned after falling into a slurry pit. Proper fencing, positioning lagoons away from public access, and installing covers are essential safety measures.

The Farm Safety Foundation advises staying outside of any building or store in case of an accident or collapse in a slurry store, stopping the pump, and contacting emergency services.

Children on Farms

HSE guidance states that “farms are not playgrounds,” and children should be kept away from hazardous areas like chemical stores, slurry pits, sheep dips, grain bins, and machinery. From 1st January, HSE has enforced regulations prohibiting children aged 13 and under from being on agricultural machinery.

“Having a sign indicating children on the farm is not sufficient,” Mr. Smith emphasised. “Children are not allowed in the workplace in any other industry sector.”

Insurance Claims and Fines

Proper documentation is crucial. If an insurance claim is made, the insurance company will likely request relevant documents related to the work being carried out. Without these, making a claim can be much more difficult.

Mr. Smith explained, “They will want to see an accident book entry, a signed risk assessment, a signed system of work, and a signed safety policy.” He also noted that HSE is imposing larger fines on farms, which is not surprising given the number of serious accidents in agriculture. “If there is a fatality on a farm today, it could lead to a courtroom case.”

The introduction of EN ISO 20345:2022 may seem overwhelming for health & safety professionals, but there’s no need to panic, writes uvex’s Clair Weston.

Safety footwear is a crucial part of PPE. Since March 2023 safety shoes and boots have been subject to the updated EN ISO 20345:2022 standard. That has presented some cause for concern for safety professionals whose staff are still wearing footwear produced under EN ISO 20345:2011. However, there is no need to worry. Here is a simple overview of what the new standard means and the action – if any – you need to take. For further information, see our White Paper: Demystifying the new safety footwear standard: A simple guide to ENISO20345:2022

Basic requirements

Most basic requirements remain the same under the new standard. EN ISO 20345:2022 still mandates the height, ergonomics and comfort of the footwear which are crucial to ensure adequate protection, fit and overall ‘wearability’. It determines the resistance, non-toxicity and properties of the materials used in the sole and shoe/boot upper. The toe cap must also meet minimum requirements, including passing a drop test equivalent to 20kg from a height of approximately one metre. 

However, the slip resistance is the most significant change and has now been added as a basic requirement for all safety footwear. Shoes/boots must meet a standard similar to the old ‘SRA’ certification with a test involving sodium lauryl sulphate on ceramic tiles. No additional markings are shown for this. However, if the footwear also passes a test with glycerol on a ceramic tile – much like the old ‘SRB’ certification – they can be marked with ‘SR’.  

Additional requirements

Depending on workplace hazards, there may be additional requirements beyond the basics. Footwear that offers protection in these specific areas are marked with letter-based codes. Under the 2022 standard, the range of additional requirements has gone from 12 to 18. 

Changes include the introduction of ‘LG’ to indicate heel grip for ladders. This additional certification is based on the ladder grip test that is standard for footwear intended for firefighters, although highly relevant to construction related trades. 

The new footwear standard now includes resistance to hydrocarbons, indicated by an ‘FO’ marking, as an additional test for environments with hazards such as oil and petrol. Previously, ‘FO’ – resistance to fuel oil – was a basic requirement for most safety footwear, except those with an open heel (SB).

Some of the additional requirements under the 2012 standard have expanded and evolved. Under the new standard, safety footwear that protects against nail penetration is marked differently: ‘P’ is used for metallic soles tested with a 4.5 mm nail, ‘PL’ for non-metallic soles tested with a 4.5 mm nail, and ‘PS’ for non-metallic soles tested with a 3 mm nail, offering higher protection due to the smaller diameter nail’s higher pressure. This expands on the old standard, where all such footwear was simply marked with ‘P’.

The EN ISO 20345:2011 standard used ‘WRU’ for shoes/boots with water-resistant uppers, but this didn’t guarantee waterproof footwear. The 2022 standard replaces ‘WRU’ with ‘WPA,’ indicating that the footwear allows some water penetration and absorption, suitable for conditions where feet aren’t submerged. ‘WR’ is now used for truly waterproof shoes.  

Protection classes

Safety footwear is divided into different protection classes depending on the requirements fulfilled. This has become a little more complicated under the new standard. Under EN ISO 20345:2011, the protection levels were divided into six classes: SB, S1, S2, S3, S4 and S5. Now, there are eight main protection classes: SB, S1, S2, S3, S4, S5, S6 and S7. The two new protection classes – S6 and S7 – are waterproof in the line with the new ‘WR’ certification.  

In addition to the new classes, the class codes may also be followed by ‘P’, ‘L’ (or ‘PL’) and ‘S’ (or ‘PS’) to indicate additional perforation resistance in line with the ‘P’, ‘PL’ and ‘PS’ certifications.

Taking action

The new standard has brought numerous improvements, however, as with any change to standards, it also potentially makes life more complicated for those working in PPE procurement, especially until all involved are familiar with the changes. The good news is that most will not need to take any action at this stage.  

While EN ISO 20345:2022 is now in place, we are still in a transition extending up to five years, allowing for a gradual integration of the new standard. Customers can therefore expect to encounter safety footwear certified under either the 2011 or 2022 standard until November 2029.  During this time, manufacturers with valid certificates can still produce footwear under the 2012 standard and it is still perfectly legal to purchase them. If you bought your footwear from a reputable supplier and it has been performing effectively and well maintained, it should not need to be replaced.  

You should, however, consider buying shoes produced under the 2022 standard if you carry out a new risk assessment and identify new workplace hazards that require safety footwear. You should also look to replace any safety shoes or boots that have degraded due to wear and tear. 

The uvex promise

The uvex safety footwear range has been created to provide reliable protection in a wide range of industry sectors such as automotive, manufacturing, in the chemical industry, on construction sites, in service and logistics, ‘clean’ environments, as well as in outdoor workspaces such as horticulture, agriculture and forestry. 

Of course, it always meets all required standards – but we also demand that little bit more from our products. We combine innovative safety footwear technologies with modern and functional design while ensuring the extra safety that our customers rightly expect from us. 

If you buy from uvex, you’re already ahead of the game. When the time comes to buy new safety footwear, you can rest assured that you’ll find the right model for your needs in our range.

The EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is a significant regulatory framework designed to enhance and standardise the sustainability reporting of companies within the European Union. It aims to provide more detailed, reliable, and comparable information on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) aspects of business operations.

Importance of the CSRD

  1. Enhanced Transparency and Accountability: The CSRD mandates comprehensive sustainability disclosures, enabling stakeholders to assess the sustainability performance and impacts of companies more accurately. This transparency fosters greater accountability and trust among investors, consumers, and other stakeholders.

  2. Standardisation of Reporting: By providing uniform standards and guidelines for sustainability reporting, the CSRD ensures consistency and comparability across different companies and industries. This standardisation is crucial for investors and other stakeholders to make informed decisions based on comparable data.

  3. Promotion of Sustainable Business Practices: The directive encourages companies to integrate sustainability into their core business strategies and operations. By requiring detailed reporting on ESG factors, the CSRD promotes long-term thinking and responsible business conduct, ultimately contributing to sustainable economic growth.

  4. Alignment with Global Initiatives: The CSRD aligns with international sustainability frameworks, such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). This alignment helps to create a cohesive global approach to sustainability reporting and enhances the EU’s role as a leader in sustainable finance.

Implications for the Future

  1. Increased Regulatory Compliance: Companies will need to invest in robust systems and processes to collect, analyse, and report sustainability data. This requirement may lead to increased compliance costs, but it will also drive improvements in data management and reporting accuracy.

  2. Enhanced Stakeholder Engagement: The directive will facilitate better communication between companies and their stakeholders, including investors, customers, employees, and regulators. Enhanced transparency and accountability are likely to build stronger relationships and trust.

  3. Greater Focus on ESG Performance: The CSRD will likely drive companies to prioritise ESG factors in their decision-making processes. This focus could lead to more sustainable business models, innovation in green technologies, and improved environmental and social outcomes.

  4. Impact on Investment Decisions: With more reliable and comparable ESG data, investors will be better equipped to assess the sustainability risks and opportunities associated with their investments. This shift could lead to increased investment in sustainable businesses and projects, accelerating the transition to a greener economy.

  5. Competitive Advantage: Companies that excel in sustainability reporting and performance may gain a competitive edge in the market. Transparency and commitment to sustainability can enhance brand reputation, attract customers, and retain talent.

The EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive is a crucial step towards more transparent, accountable, and sustainable business practices. By mandating comprehensive ESG disclosures, the CSRD will not only improve the quality of sustainability reporting but also drive positive changes in corporate behaviour and investment decisions. In the long term, this directive has the potential to significantly contribute to the EU’s sustainability goals and promote a more sustainable and resilient global economy.

Recent studies have found that tampons, which millions of people use every month, contain toxic metals like lead, arsenic, and cadmium. 

This research, done by UC Berkeley and Columbia University, is the first of its kind to measure these metals in tampons. 

And it’s a big deal! The vaginal skin can absorb these harmful substances quickly, raising significant health concerns.

What They Found

  • Researchers tested tampons from 14 different brands and found 16 metals, including some toxic ones. 
  • Non-organic tampons had more lead, while organic tampons showed higher levels of arsenic. 
  • These metals likely come from contaminated water, air, soil, and the manufacturing process. (Berkeley Public Health) (Mailman School).

The Risks

Exposure to toxic metals can lead to serious health issues like dementia, infertility, diabetes, cancer, and damage to the liver, kidneys, brain, heart, nervous system, and hormones. It can also affect maternal health and fatal development.  (Berkeley Public Health) (Mailman School).

A Personal Encounter with TSS

As someone with a deep and personal connection to menstrual health, I have always advocated for alternatives like menstrual cups and period pants. My mother’s near-fatal encounter with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) in the late 1980s, due to a tampon being left in too long, left a lasting impression on me.

TSS is a rare but serious bacterial infection often linked to tampon use. After a week of battling a severe bug, she had forgotten she had a tampon in during her period. This oversight led to a staphylococcus infection that ravaged her body. She endured a coma, multiple surgeries, kidney failure, and cardiac arrests.

This traumatic event underscored the hidden dangers of tampons and the importance of raising awareness about safer menstrual products. The symptoms of TSS, such as rash, fever, nausea, and confusion, can easily be mistaken for other illnesses, making it even more dangerous and difficult to detect.

Why I Advocate for Moon Cups and Period Pants

Given my personal history, I have long been an advocate for Moon cups and period pants. These products offer a safer alternative to tampons, reducing the risk of TSS and exposure to potentially harmful substances.

  • Moon Cups: These reusable silicone cups collect menstrual blood without causing microscopic tears in the vaginal walls. They are cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and significantly reduce the risk of infections.
  • Period Pants: These are brilliant inventions designed to absorb menstrual flow comfortably and discreetly. They offer a chemical-free, convenient option that supports menstrual health without the risks associated with tampons.

The Call for Greater Awareness and Inclusivity

Given the recent studies on toxic metals in tampons, it’s crucial to consider safer alternatives and promote menstrual health education. By sharing these findings, my mother’s story and advocating for menstrual cups and period pants, I hope to encourage others to explore these options and prioritise their health.

We need to keep talking about the risks associated with traditional menstrual products and push for safer, more inclusive solutions. There has never been a more important time to break the silence and stigma around menstrual health and make sure everyone has access to safe and effective menstrual care.

It’s vital for manufacturers to test and label menstrual products for toxic metals. Increased public awareness and demand for safer products can drive industry changes, ensuring menstrual health products are safe for all users.

This is why I am driven to change the conversation about being in a body that bleeds. So we can have open conversations and feel comfortable sharing our stories.

Menstrual education is crucial at all levels of our development, and that’s where I come in. I bring the ‘missing education’ we never got in school to organisations and give them the tools to navigate and normalise conversations with empathy rather than embarrassment.

Find out more about Bloody Marvellous Menstrual Workshops here.

For more information on the study and its implications, you can refer to the full articles here (Berkeley Public Health) (Mailman School).

Or if you have any questions about the work I do or want support, please reach out at

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Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley have discovered toxic metals in tampons, which could pose serious health risks to women.

In their study, the researchers analysed 30 tampons from 14 different brands, finding all 16 metals they tested for in each sample. These metals included arsenic, lead, mercury, nickel, copper, and iron, among others.

The levels of metals varied based on whether the tampons were sold in the US, UK, or EU, whether they were organic or non-organic, and whether they were branded or generic supermarket lines.

The study highlights that between 52% and 86% of women in the US use tampons during their menstrual cycles.

Due to their direct contact with the vaginal area, tampons contaminated with harmful substances pose significant health risks, as the metals can be easily absorbed.

Exposure to these metals can increase the risk of conditions such as dementia, cancer, infertility, and diabetes, and can affect the liver, kidneys, brain, as well as the cardiovascular, nervous, and endocrine systems. They can also be harmful to unborn babies.

Jenni Shearston, the lead author of the study, noted: “Despite the significant potential for public health concerns, very little research has been done to measure chemicals in tampons. To our knowledge, this is the first study to measure metals in tampons. Alarmingly, we found concentrations of all metals we tested for, including toxic metals like arsenic and lead.”

No Safe Level of Metal

The study found that organic tampons had higher levels of arsenic, while non-organic tampons had more lead. Metals can contaminate tampons through the absorption of polluted water, air, or soil by the cotton, or through the intentional addition by manufacturers for pigmentation.

The researchers stressed that there is no “safe” level of any of the metals tested.

Ms. Shearston expressed hope that manufacturers will be required to test their products for metals, particularly toxic ones. “It would be encouraging to see the public demand this, or call for better labelling on tampons and other menstrual products,” she added.

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