New regulations mean that a farmer could be criminally liable where he has helped in, or commissioned, the design of an agricultural building, which collapses in adverse weather conditions, and causes injury to people and livestock, or damage to machinery and crops.
British Standards have recently reviewed and amended their regulations to increase the design load of agricultural buildings, so that they can withstand the extreme weather conditions which are expected to become more usual as a result of climate change. This follows several incidences of farm buildings collapsing in some of the heavy snow and flooding seen in the North West of England and Cumbria over the last couple of years.
Using designs to old standards may prove not only inadquate, but could be breaking Construction Design and Management regulations which place liability on both the principal and other designers. Farmers therefore have a responsibility to ensure new constructions are designed by those who are up to the job. If a farmer specifies sizes and load bearing parameters based on the old standards, he could technically be deemed to be the principal designer of a building in breach of British Standards. Were such a building to collapse, the liability might fall on the farmer as well as the frame manufacturer.
Insurance companies are also taking note of the design specifications of agricultural buildings and may refuse to insure under-designed buildings if they deem them not fit for purpose.
Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.
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