Protecting health and safety of workers in agriculture, livestock farming, horticulture and forestry

Setting and problem

Agriculture in Europe is faced with increasing challenges and problems. Some of them cannot be controlled, like world economy, weather extremes and climate change. But farmers can control the issue of health and safety, for instance when working with hazardous substances. Hazardous substances are present in many forms in agriculture and forestry operations. For example: Pesticides, fuels and chemicals, but also manure and animal fluids. These hazardous substances could cause poisoning, gastric disorders, cancer, chronic diseases and death.


It is not possible to ban all the hazardous substances from agriculture in Europe. But it is important that farmers know how to handle hazardous substances and what they should and should not do. For this reason, the European Commission has developed a guideline called: “Protecting health and safety of workers in agriculture, livestock farming, horticulture and forestry”. This guideline gives background information on health and safety, with a chapter specifically on hazardous substances.


The guideline informs farmers to think about the following when using hazardous substances:

  • Make sure they are approved by national competent authorities;
  • Read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions;
  • Use clean personal protective equipment;
  • Do not mix with other hazardous substances;
  • Do not spray in windy conditions of against the wind
  • Do nog leave solutions unlabeled or unattended.

When following these rules, the risks of working with hazardous substances can be reduced.

The guide is available in 22 of the official languages.

Further information

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  • Pesticides
  • Fuels
  • Farmers
Sector / branche
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing