Good communication and efficient teamwork between farmers and contractors can help ensure this year’s harvest is as safe as possible, farm groups have said.
In preparation for the busy period on the roads and in the fields, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) have shared advice on how to prepare for a safe harvest.
Farmers and contractors have been reminded to check trailers to ensure they are safe and legal for the roads, and to make sure drivers are trained and competent, and workers have sufficient rest and are not tired.
NAAC chairman Matt Redman called for clear and efficient working between farmers and contractors.
“Having a log of daily checks and maintenance is really useful, and regular communication between the farmer and contractor can go a long way to keep everyone safe,” said Mr Redman.
“This can include providing information and maps of any hazards, contact details for someone on site for each party and agreeing emergency processes.”
Look out for each other
NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts highlighted the importance of looking out for each other throughout the harvest season.
“While it might be uncomfortable to point out a safety risk to a colleague or friend, we cannot be afraid to highlight where improvements can be made. It may well save a life,” said Mr Roberts.
“We also know that there is often an increase in road accidents around harvest time, as there is a much greater presence of agricultural vehicles on roads.
“While we are reliant on patient, responsible driving from other road users, we must do what we can to stay safe and legal, which can be as simple as making sure we, or any workers, are not too tired.”
Safe stop procedure
Mr Roberts said safety measures do not have to be expensive or time-consuming. Simple processes used every day, such as the Safe Stop procedure, can play a big part in helping to minimise risk.
Safe stop procedure
- Engage handbrake
- Controls in neutral
- Switch off engine
- Remove key
There were also calls for the industry to use social media to encourage safe working.
It follows concerning incidents of young farmworkers dicing with death by filming stunts involving moving farm machinery – and posting the footage on the internet.
“Too often we see improper uses of machinery or people using mobile phones on roads being promoted on social media. We need to make this something that is socially unacceptable,” said Mr Redman.
More than 10 people have been killed in farm-related accidents on UK farms since 1 April 2021.
The NFU has a number of farm safety advice leaflets that are available to download.