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Essential safety tips to keep farm workers safe

In this article, Jana provides our readers with essential safety tips to keep farm workers safe.

Farming is a risky occupation and while the industry may only represent around 2% of the UK workforce, it accounts for 19% of fatal accidents each year.

The types of accidents that usually occur include lifting and handling, the use of hazardous materials, and the use of machinery and vehicles.

It is, therefore, vital that businesses and farm owners understand and implement ways to reduce the incidence of accidents, paying close attention to the health and safety rules that govern farming.

Here, we will provide some advice on how you can prevent and avoid accidents on your farm, including issues you must be aware of.

Using farm equipment safely

The majority of the equipment used in farming practices can be dangerous if not handled correctly.

Agricultural transport-related incidents are some of the most common, including the overturning of vehicles.

This is why all staff operating machinery and vehicles must be provided with adequate training and refreshers must be given where necessary.

Equipment that is only used at certain times of the year, such as harvesting machinery, requires additional training to ensure that staff do not forget how to operate it efficiently.

There are some processes you can adopt to mitigate the risk of accidents, such as inspecting machinery on a regular basis, reducing the speed of moving vehicles, putting guards in place, and replacing dust filters.

Additionally, enforce the safe stop procedure, which states that when vehicles are not in use, the handbrake should be on, the controls in neutral, the engine off and the key removed.

Sometimes, the equipment may have been used safely but is faulty, leading to you or your staff being harmed.

If this is the case, you may need to make a compensation claim for the injuries, as well as any damage to your possessions.

Prioritise staff wellbeing

Harvesting is a particularly busy time and can require long hours and hard work. This means you must make sure your employees are looking after themselves and are fit for work.

The best ways to ensure staff are well looked after include keeping them hydrated and planning suitable meals.

To do this, drinking water should be kept in cabs, and meals should contain slow-release energy foods so that workers do not experience ‘sugar highs/lows’ and reduced concentration.

Additionally, staff should be encouraged to take regular breaks, especially if they are set to be in their cabs for most of the day.

Making time for breaks, even if this is just to walk around or stretch, can significantly reduce fatigue and prevent musculoskeletal disorders.

Also, to prevent tiredness, make sure that working hours allow for plenty of sleep in between shifts in order to prepare for early starts and late finishes.

Controlling hazardous chemicals

To reduce the risks involving hazardous materials on the farm, you should ideally look to replace the current chemicals with a less hazardous alternative where possible.

If this is not feasible, you must consider control measures. This could include putting robust lids on storage bins, installing dust extraction, and operating fresh air blowers to reduce the presence of hazardous materials.

Additionally, all workers should be provided with properly-fitted personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, goggles, masks, and clothing.

Staff should also wash their skin after work or exposure, applying moisturising cream once dry.

You need to be vigilant when it comes to employees who have health conditions like asthma, as dust can lead to further health complications.

Monitor their health and detect symptoms early so they can seek relevant medical advice.

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