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Agricultural Safety

When most people think of agriculture they have this lovely little image in their heads of farmers sat on tractors, feeding lambs and eating porridge.

 

What they don’t see is the long hours of hard work and the vast amount of training and safety regulations that goes in hand with it. 

That’s why we have put together a quick guide to safety taken from the HSE.gov.uk Agriculture site.

Working At Height In Agriculture

Falling from height is the second highest cause of death in this sector. These falls usually happen from roofs, bales, vehicles and lofts. 

To try and prevent accidents it worth thinking about the below: 
  • Avoiding work at heights when you can 
  • If you have to then use equipment/processes to prevent falls 
  • And use equipment that minimises the distance if that isn’t an option. 
Working on roofs
 
When you are working on roofs you should bear in mind the following: Most roofs are fragile, including the roof lights so no-one should ever walk over them, this also means that you should not work from the roof unless it is from a platform that supports the weight of the worker. You should: 
  • Always plan the work to be done 
  • Check the weather forecast for any adverse conditions 
  • Make sure that all workers are aware of the precautions 
  • Any ladders used should be secured in place 
  • Make sure there are adequate warning signs 

You can find out more in depth information about working on fragile roofs or glasshouse roofs on the HSE.gov.uk site. 

Working on vehicles 

While working from vehicles isn’t quite as dangerous as working from roofs it’s important to: 
  • Take time when climbing down from the cab and use any provided steps or handrails. 
  • Make sure that you are wearing suitable footwear 
  • Jumping down from vehicles are bad for the knees and can cause you to fall awkwardly. 
Working with bales 

When working with bales please ensure the following: 
  • Trailer floors are in a good condition 
  • Full loads should be secure before leaving the field, and no one should be riding on them. 
  • Inspect stacks regularly 
  • Stacking is a skill and should only be done by trained and competent people.

Machinery In Agriculture

Machinery is necessary in the day to day running in the agricultural industry, but misuse of the machines can cause permanent injury and even death so it’s important to understand how they work and the processes that should be followed. 

Safe Use 

Before you use the machinery its best to make sure of the following: 
  • The vehicle is suitable for its intended use. 
  • All the safety mechanisms are in place and working 
  • The user is fully trained to use the vehicle 
  • A risk assessment has been carried out. 
Some things to bear in mind whilst you are using the machinery: 
  • Don’t use the machine if safety guards are off or damaged. These should be put on or fixed/replaced before the machine is used again. 
  • Make sure there are no pedestrians or bystanders that could be hurt during the running of the machine. 
  • If the machine is going to be checked again after the test run all the safety procedures should be re-run. If you experiences problems or other issues 
  • You should always follow the Safe Stop procedure before you carry out any investigation. 
  • Secure anything that could move or rotate and anything that could fall on you. 
  • Follow the instructions in the manufacturer’s manual. 
  • Be careful when dealing with springs and coils, some energy can be stored in them even when the engine is off and can cause injury. 
You should also never wear loose garments or jewellery which can get caught, and do not distract people who are operating machinery. 

Maintenance 

Before you start any maintenance work, the steps you need to follow are very similar of the problems and issues section we went over above. 

But do make sure: 
  • All movement on the machine has stopped. 
  • The correct equipment is being used when working on the vehicles. 
  • The correct tools, instructions and relevant manuals are provided. 
When you are working on the machine for maintenance it is important to isolate it. 

The main isolator should be used which is usually a separate control, if however the machine is a bit far from the isolator then remove the fuses from the isolator box and attach a warning sign to it. 

If you are working with plant equipment under pressure (i.e slurry tankers, boilers or air receivers) they may burst causing injury and significant harm to anyone nearby. 

Make sure: 
  • Plant is used for its correct purpose and installed correctly. 
  • You know the safe working pressures and temperatures of the machinery you are working on. 
  • Safety valves are fitted to relieve any built up pressure.

Livestock

Handling cattle and livestock can always be tricky and presents its own risks and issues. 

It is key that you have the adequate equipment and handling measures in place to reduce risk of injuries or accidents, particularly when you have visitors to the premises. 

You should have: 
  • Handling facilities, which are maintained on a regularly basis 
  • A race and a crush which are adequate for the animals you handle 
  • That workers are trained and competent to deal with livestock 
Other equipment you should think about when dealing with cattle and livestock are: 
  • Shedding gates, these allow animals to be sorted into groups after the crush. 
  • Work will be more convenient if it us under cover with a workbench 
  • Also before you start working on an animal make sure that you are able to restrain it from kicking. Kicking can cause bad and in some cases fatal injuries. 
  • Do not use makeshift gates or hurdles. 
You can find the full document on handling cattle and livestock from the HSE.gov.uk site, as well as downloadable advice and relevant contacts.

Training & Qualifications In Agriculture

When working in the agricultural industry it is imperative that everyone is trained and competent, especially if working daily with heavy machinery and/or livestock. 

You can get training from a variety of places including: 
  • Trade unions and associations 
  • Colleges and further education 
  • Private training 
  • Qualification awarding bodies such as City & Guilds NPTC or Lantra Awards 
  • Manufacturers, dealers and suppliers. 
There are also vocational qualifications available which are awarded by Ofqual. You can read more in depth about the training and qualifications available on HSE.gov.uk site. 

We hope that you have found this article useful, as previously mentioned it is not an exhaustive list of safety procedures and regulations, and you can find out more about it by visiting the Agriculture section.

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