NFU issues harvest safety warning

Following the wettest June on record the NFU has issued a warning urging farmers to take extra care during harvest.

Insurance records from the past 100 years show that there are significantly more accidents during wet harvests as farmers and farm workers are put under more pressure, says Matthew Scott, chief claims manager. “When people are tired there’s a greater risk of an accident, and sometimes temptation to keep going when conditions are unsafe.”

Many of the injuries are caused by operators attempting to clear blockages from their machines, he says. “Sadly we still see accidents leading to deaths and very serious injuries where farmers have started to clear blockages with machines still running.”

The latest statistics show that farming remains the most dangerous occupation in the UK with nearly 50 deaths in accidents last year.

In the field

You can never overdo cleaning out dust and chaff from hot spots. This is just as important in difficult weather when damaged or dusty crops can lead to high build-ups of debris

Resist the urge to keep going when temperature gauges are ‘in the red’ or warning devices are alerting the driver to a problem or fault

While clearing blockages or carrying out maintenance ensure machines are switched off and parts have stopped moving – taking short cuts still leads to horrific injuries and deaths

Make sure drivers are aware of the locations and heights of power lines and check that the machinery will safely pass under wires and restrictions

Put in place a system for keeping in contact with lone workers Keep mobile ‘phones on your person – not left in a tractor or pick up cab

Keep a good first aid kit handy

In the yard

Instruct drivers to keep to safe speeds in the grain yard

Check signs are in place to help lorry drivers go to the right place and alert members of the public to any potential hazards

Ensure children are kept away from working areas

Clean dust regularly from grain dryers – and ensure that all staff running the drier are fully trained and know what to do if fire breaks out

Ensure fire extinguishers are readily accessible for all

Make sure ladders and platforms used for maintenance are up to the job and a safe system of work is in operation.