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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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6 steps to ensure a safe silage harvest

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with special responsibility for farm safety, Martin Heydon, has urged the farming community to “take time to ensure a safe silage harvest”.

His message comes on the back of HSA statistics showing that half of all fatal incidents on farms involve vehicles or machinery, while longer working days during the summer months can increase the risk of incidents due to fatigue.

The minister, in a statement to this publication, said: “We know the pressure that farmers and agricultural contractors alike can be under to get the work completed.”

“I would urge everyone involved over the coming days and weeks to take some extra time to ensure it is completed safely as well.”

“We know where the risks are when it comes to silage harvesting. It is important to plan ahead, identify the risks, and take action to mitigate them to ensure a safe harvest for everyone.”

Farm safety tips

The minister has urged farmers and contractors to follow the steps below to ensure a safe silage harvest:

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  • A safe system of work should be in place and properly communicated to all;
  • All machinery should be in a good state of repair, fully serviced, with all protective guards in place;
  • Everyone involved should be properly trained and know their role;
  • The routes that the machinery will be taking should be known, and there should be good visibility at the farm entrance and all field entrances that are being used;
  • Warning signs should be erected near entrances to fields and farmyards;
  • Silage pits should be checked to see if they are in good repair and not overfilled.

The minister concluded by emphasising: “It is vital to keep vulnerable people, especially children, safe and away from the silage harvest.”
“Friends, family, visitors and fellow farmers not involved in silage making should also stay away from the yard and meadows,” he concluded.

The minister’s commentary echoes that of the FCI, which last week warned that driver resources will be “pushed to the limit” this silage season at a time when agricultural contractors are struggling to recruit suitable operators.

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