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Stay Safe this Christmas


Christmas can create a hive of activity on many farms with family home and friends visiting. It is important to continue to keep safety high on the priority list as the farmyard is a hazardous place. Francis Bligh, Teagasc Health & Safety Specialist has advice on staying safe this Christmas

Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) found that in the five year period 2012-2017 almost two-thirds of farm accidents occurred in the farmyard (64%) and a further 15% in farm buildings. 

Create a safe place on the farm for children

Over the Christmas holidays it is important to keep children away from work areas. A safe secure play area is important if children are outside. When children are in the farmyard they must be supervised.  Easy to read danger signs should be in place and these signs should be explained to children. The Teagasc website has a large amount of resources for children that can be downloaded here - Resources for Children 

Cold weather

Christmas and early January can bring cold weather. It is important to wear suitable warm clothing and bring a mobile phone. Try to have clear routes around farm buildings, and have a stock of gritting material and salt. A slip or fall can have devastating consequences. Take action to divert water from routes that are used multiple times a day, which can become slippery.

Frozen Pipes

Try to prevent water supplies freezing up. Some work on insulating pipes now could help reduce the need to move water manually if a cold spell of weather arrives.

Lighting

Good lights have a dramatic positive impact on safety on the farm. Check that all regular walkways are well-lit and replace any blown bulbs. If there are any electrical repairs needed, make sure they’re done by a professional electrician. Make sure all plugs are correctly wired and your cables are solid. When erecting Christmas lights avoid overhead power lines, overloaded power sockets, damaged cables and creating trip hazards. More information here on lighting and safety around yards

Farm animals

New births on the farm are not uncommon over Christmas. It is very important to remember that animals guarding their young can be more aggressive and unpredictable than usual. Take the time to pen cows or heifers properly that are showing signs of calving. Make sure there is a way to put a physical barrier between you and the animals if she needs assistance during calving or when helping the calf to suckle. More information here on Calving Safely 

Ask for help being mindful of the need to follow HSE guidance on the control of the spread of Covid 19.

Machinery

Machinery and tractors must be well maintained. Beware of handbrakes that are not working properly. Health and Safety Authority data shows that a large percentage of deaths with tractors and farm vehicles have been as a result of a crush injury. The eventful nature of Christmas can increase the temptation to try to rush jobs. It is important to always be realistic about the amount of time you need to complete your jobs in a safe manner.

Removing bales from a bale stack or shed

Removing bales from a stack or shed requires great care to avoid injury. Remove the bales from the upper row first. Removing bales from the bottom or middle of the stack can lead to dislodgement and a risk of being injured by a falling bale. More information on handling bales here

Road Safety

Drivers of agricultural machines should drive with caution and make sure loads are secure. It is important to increase visibility by using lights and beacons, especially during inclement weather or when light is low (early mornings and evenings). Avoid busy roads whenever possible. Try to keep windows washed and clean to increase visibility. .

First Aid Box

Take time to check your first aid box to ensure that it is fully stocked and that items are in date. It is important also to ensure you Eircode is written down in a visible place so that it can be accessed easily in an emergency.

Be Winter -Ready Campaign

The ‘Be Winter-Ready’ campaign, is a government initiative to raise awareness about the particular challenges that winter can present during winter and provides information on winter preparation. This year’s ‘Be Winter-Ready’ campaign is focused on “Staying Safe on the Farm over Winter”. The Office of Emergency Planning, in collaboration with their colleagues in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, have designed and produced a leaflet on farm safety. This leaflet is available by clicking the following link here

Check out Farm Health & Safety section of the Teagasc website for more useful information.

More information on farming safely with livestock available here on Health and Safety Authority website