One of the Code of Good Shooting Practice’s five golden rules is that game is food and must always be treated as such.
Transport of beaters
One area of shoot management which does not always receive sufficient consideration is the transportation of shoot personnel; Guns, beaters, pickers-up, etc.
Though the provision of a dedicated vehicle is not always possible, temporary transport generally used for other purposes must meet HSE minimum standard guidelines and always be safe, secure and in a roadworthy condition.
Obviously, each shoot has a different set of circumstances but if you are providing transport for a shoot day, in particular trailers towed behind vehicles, then listed below are the key points which must be considered:
- Anyone riding as a passenger on any form of agricultural equipment should only do so in a properly constructed and secured seat. This does not necessarily rule out the use of straw bales, but they must be secured, and preferably positioned down the centre of the trailer with passengers sitting back to back.
- Where trailers are used, the towing vehicle must be in good roadworthy condition, in particular steering, braking systems and tyres; secured, and coupled to the trailer in accordance with the Agriculture (Field Machinery) Regulations 1962. If travelling on public roads the trailer should have a working tail light system, including indicators.
- To comply with the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989, slow-moving vehicles having a maximum speed not exceeding 25 mph and any trailer drawn by such a vehicle must display an amber light from a warning beacon.
- Trailers must also be in good condition, i.e., properly maintained tyres and braking system which includes both parking and service brakes. The trailer floor must be in sound condition.
- The driver should be trained and experienced in towing trailers. He should ensure he drives carefully with consideration to passengers; does not change speed quickly, does not jolt passengers, nor cause them to be thrown around.
Health & Safety Executive (HSE) information sheet 36, “Carriage of passengers on farm trailers”, states that the minimum standards for trailers carrying workers to and from worksites on a one-off basis (in this instance ‘one-off’ is defined as a trailer usually used for other purposes) are;
- Seating must be securely fixed to the trailer bed and secured with ropes or other effective means, and fitted with a backrest, unless situated down the centre of the trailer. This should extend at least 470mm above the seat level.
- There should be a headboard, tailboard and sides to prevent people falling off. These should be to a height at least of 470mm above the surface upon which a person is sitting. It should not be possible for anyone to touch the wheels from any position.
- No one should ride standing in the trailer or sitting on the top edges of the sides/headboard/tailboard, or with their legs hanging over the side of the trailer, including the responsible person.
- A safe means of access must be provided. This means a portable ladder, suitable for the purpose, securely held when access is required and carried in the trailer with the passengers. If fixed steps are used, the first step should not be more than 550mm from the ground. A secure handhold should be available to a height of 1050mm above the trailer floor.
- Where passengers are carried after dark, there must be a lighting system, which adequately illuminates the access and the area of the trailer used by passengers. Hand-held lights and torches are not sufficient.
- Trailers should not be carrying any load at the same time as passengers.
Trailers dedicated/adapted for the sole purpose of transporting of shoot personnel should comply with the full regulations, which can be found in HSE information sheet 36.
A safe system of operation must be in place, the features of which should include:
- A responsible person travelling on each trailer (not the driver) to assist passengers. One of the passengers could be nominated as a ‘responsible person’. They must be able to contact the driver easily and the driver should be instructed not to move unless instructed by this person.
- More than one responsible person may be required if the passengers include children, however, if the majority of passengers are adults one responsible person is sufficient.
- No one should be allowed to mount or dismount from the trailer while it is moving. All passengers must remain seated while the vehicle is in motion and not rise from their seats to exit the trailer until the responsible person indicates it is safe to do so.
- Mounting and dismounting from the trailer should take place in a quiet and safe area, away from other traffic if possible. If not, then suitable barriers should be provided to prevent people, especially children, from running into danger.
The responsible person should ensure the number of passengers does not exceed the capacity of the trailer.
The “no smoking” legislation applies on trailers.
The following instructions should be given to passengers before they enter the trailer:
- No smoking is allowed.
- Passengers must remain seated at all times.
- Don’t lean over the barriers.
- Do not ride on the tailboard, headboard or sides, or with legs over the side.
- Do not mount or dismount the trailer until the responsible person tells you to do so.
- Only use the steps provided for access and egress.
- Always follow the instructions of the responsible person.
- Dogs must be placed on leads whilst entering and exiting the trailer.
ATV quad bikes should not be used for transporting passengers.
For further advice and guidance contact the Agricultural Inspectorate at your local Heath & Safety Executive.
Carrying passengers in trailers on public highways
Under the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986, as amended, there are potential offences relating to carriage of passengers. Regulations 90 (1) states ‘no person shall use or cause or permit to be used on a road any trailer for the carriage of persons for hire or reward’. Provided there is no element of hire or reward relating to the carriage of passengers in or on a trailer on the public highway then no offence is committed under this regulation.
Under Regulations 100 (1) which states ‘a motor vehicle, every trailer drawn – hereby …the number of passengers carried by such a vehicle or trailer, the manner in which any passenger is carried in or on such vehicles or trailer… shall at all times be such, that no danger is caused or is likely to be caused to any person in or on the vehicle or trailer or on a road’.
Under this Regulation, whether or not an offence is committed is a question of fact and degree. Provided passengers are carried safely and in such a manner that they are in no danger and no danger is likely to be caused to them then no offence will be committed under this Regulation. However, as stated previously, it is a matter of interpretation and related to the specific facts of any case, whether or not passengers are being carried safely.
Provided the guidance offered above is followed, then this will go a long way to ensuring passenger safety and thereby ensuring no prosecution will be likely to result from the carriage of passengers in or on a trailer on a public highway.
A ‘public highway or place’ is defined by the police as anywhere the public can go that is maintained by the council, or where the general public can travel without any restriction, i.e., there are no gates or private property notices.
Anything outside of the above, including private land and property, is termed a ‘special place’. If accidents (resulting in injuries or death) happened here the drivers, event organisers, landowners, etc could be charged under the ‘Wanton & Furious Driving Act 1861’. This is still in force and has been used on a number of cases in the recent past.
It is sensible for any person intending to carry passengers in or on a trailer on a public highway, (in connection with a shoot) to contact local police for affirmation that the safety measures that have been adopted satisfy their requirements.
A trailer which does carry passengers must comply with Regulation 15 of “The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (C&U), if manufactured after 1 April 1983.
Regulation 15 of C&U brings in EC directive 98/12 paragraph 188.8.131.52.
On every trailer which is required to be fitted with a service braking system, parking braking shall be ensured even when the trailer is separated from the towing vehicle. It shall be possible for a person standing on the ground to actuate the parking braking system; however, in the case of a trailer used for the carriage of passengers, it shall be possible to actuate this braking system from inside the trailer. The expression ‘actuate` also covers the action of releasing.
In short, if the trailer is not agricultural and is used to carry passengers, then it must have a parking brake which can be operated from inside the trailer.