The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has urged all farmers and contractors to carefully plan their work and complete their risk assessments as silage season gets underway.
According to the authority, most fatalities with tractors and farm machinery involve:
- A combination of poor planning;
- Operator error;
- Lack of training;
- Maintenance issues;
- The presence of children/elderly near work activity.
Farmers need to consider the following questions ahead of silage season:
- Have you planned the work activity in advance?
- Are all operators competent and fit for work?
- Also, are handbrakes or parking brakes working properly?
- Are cabs and doors in good condition?
- Also, are your tractor mirrors cleaned, set, and maintained correctly?
- Is work organised to avoid the presence of young children or other vulnerable individuals such as elderly family members?
- Are traffic flows and limits on pit heights agreed?
- Is operator fatigue monitored and managed?
Machine maintenance and competent operators
The HSA stressed that farmers should check all tractors and machinery are suitable for the job and properly maintained, paying particular attention to checking brakes, steering, hitching of trailers and ensuring good driver visibility.
“It is important to check that all tractor and machinery operators are skilled and competent in the operation of the machinery assigned to them and that they know and understand the system and workflow to be used that puts everyone’s safety first.”
Pat Griffin’s (senior inspector at the HSA) message is this: “Take time to plan for a safe silage season”.
The safety message comes as its latest data shows tractors, vehicles and farm machinery are the biggest cause of farm-related fatalities, accounting for over half of farm-related deaths from 2011 – 2020.
To note, over the past decade, 113 people have been killed in farming-related workplace incidents involving tractors, vehicles, and machinery. 18 of these were children and young persons under the age of 18.