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Avoiding Hazards with Farm Machinery

Health and Safety Advice for Farmers

One of the key speakers for the H&H Safety Farm Zone at Borderway UK Dairy Expo is Neil Elsender, Managing Director of IRM Safety, who is working in partnership with H&H Insurance Brokers to bring a farm health and safety focus to the event.

On the day, Neil will be raising awareness on how to avoid injury and even death from farm machinery.  During his presentation entitled “Safe Use of Machinery,” he will talk about the hazardous areas of agricultural machines, the importance of ‘SAFE STOP’, what to do before using any machine, discuss operator competence (not just a matter of training!) and dealing with problems such as blockages and breakdowns.  Neil explains:

“Farm machinery and vehicles are the most common cause of fatal and serious injuries on farms.  Accidents can involve overturning vehicles and machines, collisions with other machinery, buildings or people.  The majority of tractor and other farm vehicle fatalities are as a result of overturns when working on slopes from loss of control, runaway vehicles, jack-knifing or overturning.”

Through his talk, Neil is keen to share some simple steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of an incident and outlines some areas to be aware of and valuable advice to ensure health and safety is at the forefront at all times.

Plan the job
It sounds obvious but think about where the machinery will be working and any changes in ground conditions or slope.  Ask yourself some questions: What are the surface conditions? Will the current weather conditions effect the work? (Wet weather may make the ground more slippery).  Are there obstacles (trees, rocks, etc.) that could make the tractor unstable?  Are there other machines or people working or likely to be in the area? What is the task that you will be doing? (towing large tankers on slopes may change the grip on tractor wheels when turning or on slopes).

Select suitable equipment
The tractor or vehicle should be fitted with a suitable cab or roll over protections structure (ROPS), which will protect the operator in the event of an overturn. Where there is a risk of overturning, the operator should use a seat restraint.  If a ROPS is fitted, ensure that it is in good condition and not likely to fail in the event of an overturn.  Neil advises:

“It’s important to always ensure that the tractor or machine is well maintained especially braking and steering components and that tyres have adequate tread for the work that will be carried out.  Never remove doors or windows from a safety cab and fit a lap belt (if one is not already installed).  Also, selecting a suitable machine for the job, for example a tractor with four-wheel drive, is likely to be much safer on slopes than a similar two-wheel drive machine.”

Work safely
Always follow a safe system of work, turning uphill when working across slopes and descend straight down the smallest gradients, always select the correct gear and speed for the conditions and operation and consider the change of stability that will occur when using attached or trailed implements and trailers

If an overturn occurs, it is important to reduce the risk of injury by:

  • Stay in the cab and DO NOT try to jump clear
  • DON’T carry loose items such as drawbar pins, grease guns and tools inside the cab as these can cause injury in the event of an overturn
  • WEAR the lap belt or seat restraint when working on slopes
  • Ensure that operators have ADEQUATE TRAINING for the work and machinery that they will be using.

Other than the priority to keep everyone safe, following health and safety working practices and standards can also help to significantly reduce the number of accidents in your business, explains Paul Graham, Managing Director of H&H Insurance Brokers:

“It’s worth knowing that awareness of and a culture of robust health and safety practices will not only keep the number of incidents and severity of claims down, but it can in turn help lessen any insurance premium increases for your business.  Seeking expert advice when looking at your insurance needs is always advisable, and H&H Insurance Brokers can assist with this.”

H&HSafety  is a health and safety support service for farm and rural businesses, and a partnership between H&H Insurance Brokers, specialists in rural insurance and IRM Safety, founded by Neil in 2006 as health and safety specialists.



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