Lifting potatoes in Lincolnshire© Tim Scrivener

Potato growers are being urged to take steps to prevent accidents this harvest – and to expect visits from safety inspectors.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is launching a campaign to raise awareness of the risks during this autumn’s potato harvest

HSE inspectors will be inspecting potato harvesting operations across the country during September and October to ensure farms are complying with health and safety rules.

See also: How a false leg inspired a farm safety campaign 

Latest HSE figures show 30 people were killed on farms in Britain over the past 12 months.

Accidents during the potato harvesting remain a common cause of serious and fatal injuries.

Common causes include entanglement with dangerous parts of machines, being struck or run over by vehicles and falls from height.

The HSE has released a safety checklist of areas inspectors will be checking. These include:

  • Haulm and clod rollers are properly guarded
  • Power take-off guards are in good condition
  • Harvester operated have been trained
  • All drivers follow “Safe Stop” procedure
  • Work equipment is adequately maintained
  • Moving vehicles are segregated from pedestrians
  • Risks or falls from trailers and in potato stores are managed

Rick Brunt, HSE head of agriculture, said: “The risks during potato harvesting are well known, but the precautions are straightforward.

“Farmers and their employees need to work together to make sure equipment is safe and work is well planned.”

Free guidance on safe potato harvesting is available on the HSE and AHDB Potatoes websites