Cut accident risk by ensuring harvest staff take breaks

Combines are expected to start rolling roll in the next three weeks and managers are being urged to keep a close eye on the working hours of their harvest staff, as tiredness increases the risk of accidents.

Agriculture remains one of the most dangerous professions in the UK, yet many of the fatalities and serious injuries reported each year can be easily avoided, believes one expert.

See also: Get ready for harvest: How to carry out a safety induction

The busy harvest period is a time when the risk of an accident occurring could increase, warned Oliver Dale, managing director of Safety Revolution.

Accident risk

Harvest is a higher risk period with more large vehicles out on the roads and a greater reliance on potentially inexperienced seasonal staff.

One area highlights as needing close attention is ensuring staff take adequate breaks and are not overworked.

There is generally a lack of clear guidance on when breaks should be taken and, therefore, it is the responsibility of the employer to make informed decisions to protect the well-being of staff.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the buzz of harvest, but make sure working hours are monitored closely,” he said.

“There should be a clear policy stating how many hours and days that staff can work before they are required to take a break or have time off.


His advice is to have clear guidelines in place for breaks and to keep an eye out for any tell-tale signs of fatigue.

“Are standards of work slipping? Are people making more mistakes? Is there sufficient attention to detail? These are all warning signs on which to make a judgement,” he says.

One good tip is that many “best practice” employers follow is to provide a meal for staff to ensure they take a lunch break.

His final bit of advice is to keep workers hydrated with a regular supply of water, especially if the weather does warm up.

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