The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) is urging all contractors to ensure that safety remains a top priority as the slurry spreading season prepares to re-open in some areas of the country, from next week.
While the entire country has moved into level 5 restrictions from December 30, 2020, farm and forestry contractors are designated as essential services for agriculture and they will remain open for business as the slurry spreading season begins.
FCI national chairman, John Hughes:
“The current 5km travel restriction does not apply to the work of farm and forestry contractors. We urge all of those working in the farm contractor sector to take extra safety and sanitising precautions, as safety at slurry spreading takes on a new meaning in 2021.”
“With the opportunity to be open for farm and forestry contractor businesses, comes the added responsibility not to add to any further risk of spreading this deadly COVID-19 virus.”
“We urge all contractors to operate with the greatest care for their staff and customers alike. Double your efforts for the next few weeks, while doing your essential work, and this will help defeat the virus.
“If we do this well, this could hopefully prove to be the third and final lockdown of this epidemic,“ he added.
With Ireland at a “crucial and significant“ juncture in the fight against Covid-19, FCI is asking contractors to ensure that all of their services are provided in accordance with Government guidelines.
“It is important that we maintain the same standards of machine and personal hygiene that were in place from March 2020.”
“This means not sharing machines, only one person per vehicle cab at all times, wearing gloves and masks and not entering customer’s houses for food or other reasons,” Hughes added.
FCI is urging contractors and their teams to be extra vigilant in terms of machine and slurry gas safety as the national health services are already under considerable pressure.
“During agitation, there is no such thing as a safe tank since slurry gas is always produced at varying concentrations and durations during agitation.”
“No one should enter livestock buildings and livestock should be removed from sheds, before agitation begins while operators should not stand close to slurry pumps,” added Hughes.
FCI is advising contractors to ensure that all slurry machine safety guards and devices are in place, in a final checklist before the season begins.
Many farm machinery dealerships and workshops will remain open for parts sales during level 5 restrictions.
“We urge contractors to follow public safety guidelines by ordering parts in good time, either online or by telephone for delivery to your yard.”
“Do not leave parts order requests until the last minute as we anticipate that supplies of parts may be slower due to a combination of the virus and Brexit changes.”
Take no chances
FCI is urging contractors not to take any chances with their health and well-being, or that of their staff and customers. “Taking the proper actions, will not only save you, your family/ loved ones, relatives, and friends, but all of those that you and your teams come into contact with during your work on farms.
Pay particular attention to slurry gas dangers and machine safety while maintaining social distancing at all times,” he added.
“Let’s all do our best to reduce farm fatalities. As contractors we can all play our part in making 2021 a safe, healthy, and prosperous year by starting with a new level of safety awareness at slurry spreading,” concluded Hughes.