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By February 15, 2018 0 Comments Read More →

A Safety Guide for Selling at Farmers’ Markets

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Farmers’ markets present a great opportunity for fledgling businesses to check out the likely interest in a product while exposing it to a wide range of customers who prefer to buy (usually) locally sourced items from the actual producer – a great way of ensuring the provenance of foods in a market where shelves are usually stacked with items from all across the world. However, it’s not just a question of turning up – as a provider of food to the general public you will need to consider the wellbeing of potential customers both as regards health and safety and environmental health – the sector which polices the safety of the food for sale to the public. The following article by Nathan Brew, Technical Manager at NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Limited, covers many of the issues you will need to consider and provides contact details for a number of helpful sources. 

Farmers’ markets are a great way for growers and producers of locally-sourced food to promote their produce and learn about what their end customers really want.

For people who want to support local businesses while enjoying fresh and unique products, a farmers’ market is brilliant for discovering new food and drinks, and learning about fascinating ‘field to fork’ stories.

It’s a match made in heaven for foodies, growers and producers alike ‒ no wonder farmers’ markets have enjoyed such a boom in recent years.

However, those making their first forays into selling directly to customers have some important health and safety concerns to consider. Keeping staff and the public safe must be a priority, which is why carrying out a risk assessment, both before the event and reassessing it continuously as the day progresses, is vital.


If you are transporting staff and produce then you need a vehicle which is well maintained and fit for purpose. Consider whether you require temperature controlled storage and what fuel is required to safely power any refrigeration. Many accidents happen when staff interact with tailgate lifts and flatbed trailers, and falls from height are very common, so ensure appropriate risk assessments and safe systems of work are in place to help prevent twisted ankles, broken legs and worse.     


Before attending a farmers’ market you should ask organisers to provide a fire safety briefing for the site so that you and your workers understand the hazards and control measures in place.

 Things you can do to reduce the risk of a fire include:

  • Ensuring any canopy complies with British Standards.
  • Reducing the number of potential ignition sources and not allowing smoking.
  • Keeping the stall and immediate area free from rubbish and packaging materials.
  • Providing a small, dry powder fire extinguisher and ensuring that it is in-date.
  • Having a torch handy if attending markets during winter months.
  • Ensuring any gas cylinders are connected by a competent person using the correct hoses and fixings, and that they are kept outside the stall, in a safe protected area while in use.
  • Storing generators a safe distance from the stall and keep clear of combustible materials and flammable liquids.
  • Storing fuel in an approved container and keeping it in a vehicle when not in use.
  • Ensuring the refrigeration equipment is well maintained and serviced. These units can catch fire and the insulation materials used in chilled vans are often combustible.
  • Using modern, well-maintained extension leads if necessary, but limiting their use.
  • Avoiding charging appliances around combustible items and not leaving them unattended.


There are some simple steps which can help reduce the risk of injuries being caused by manual handling. Where possible, keep the size of any boxes to a minimum, and store heavier items at the bottom of the vehicle bed. Better still, use two people to lift anything remotely heavy.

If you are moving heavy items, use mechanical handling equipment such as sack trucks and trolleys where possible, and ensure workers are trained in good lifting techniques.

Consider whether you need to wear and/or provide protective footwear when moving heavier loads.   


Keep your stall and surrounding area clean and free of any clutter – and keep any generators or gas cylinders stored safely, with any exhaust venting away from the stall.

If you attend a Christmas market or other winter event, make sure your area is well lit and that you have torches in case the lighting fails. A first aid kit would also be useful if any of your workers sustains a minor injury.

If anything is spilled or smashed on the floor then you must clean it up immediately using suitable gloves where necessary. If your floor space becomes slippery, try and dry the surface rather than only putting out warning signs ‒ cat litter and sand is an excellent absorbent material!

Ensure everything – goods for sale, refrigerated displays and marketing materials – are stored in a stable and secure manner so there is no chance of them falling or collapsing.

Also, think about hazards from the eye-line of a child. Look out for any sharp edges or protruding equipment which could injure children.

Should anyone suffer an injury or accident, be sure to take names and telephone numbers of any witnesses, and take lots of photographs of the scene and suggested/suspected cause. This could be invaluable in helping your Insurer defend any claims of negligence.


All food outlets must register with their local environmental health department. Food must be labelled with a description, weights and sales-units, as well as ingredients and allergens (where applicable).

All food businesses must have a written food safety management system in place. You can produce your own food safety management system but the Food Standards Agency has developed a pack called ‘Safer Food, Better Business’, which you can complete and use for this purpose.

If you handle open food, for example meat from your livestock or ‘home-made’ food, it is important that you consider the food safety issues in more depth than detailed in this guidance. All staff handling such food should have training in basic food hygiene as a minimum, and hand washing facilities must be available. Cleaning products must be provided, and these must be stored safely.


Download a pdf of the NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Limited Farmers’ Market safety guide.

The information provided in this guidance is a brief overview of a diverse work activity. This activity may require further assessment and consultancy work completing to ensure statutory compliance.

NFU Mutual Risk Management Services can also provide additional support in this area using one of its specialist in-house consultants based around the UK. Contact your local NFU Mutual Agent for more information.



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