Better Business: Pre-harvest staff and safety checks

Machinery and equipment might get the full pre-harvest treatment, but also be sure to focus on helping staff to minimise the risk of damage to people and property, says Nigel Wellings of insurance broker Farmers & Mercantile.

  • When taking on harvest staff, assess their competence, record it and give training.
  • Always take a copy of driving licences and tell your insurer of any with more than three points.
  • Give at least half a day’s training, explain how you want work to be done, familiarise new staff with kit and the farm layout.
  • Make sure everyone has contact phone numbers and knows emergency procedures.
  • A written health and safety policy is a legal requirement for those with more than five employees (including the self-employed) on the farm at any time. This threshold can be inadvertently breached at harvest, leading to serious trouble if an employee has an accident and no policy exists.
  • Consider risks to visitors and public over harvest – for example, delivery drivers, grain samplers and mechanics. You are likely to be held responsible if there is an accident involving them on your premises. Reversing machinery, falling straw bales, contact with overhead power lines and falls from machinery and buildings are the biggest risks. Produce a simple risk assessment that shows how you minimise these.
  • Ensure business interruption insurance covers hire of a replacement machine if yours catches fire. Check limits on hire costs – a large combine can cost up to £50,000 a season to hire. Check your combine’s market value, insure it comprehensively on your agricultural vehicle policy.

See also: Upload your harvest photos to our Harvest Highlights gallery