Silage Season Safety Check
We're now in one of the busiest times on farms as silage is being harvested. It's also one of the most high risk times due to increased movement of machinery and people on our roads and farms. Jacinta O'Neill, Teagasc Advisor, Westport, has a useful safety checklist to consider for silage season
Health & Safety Authority (HSA) statistics show that over the last 10 years tractors, vehicles and machinery use accounts for over half of farm-related deaths. From 2011-2020, 113 people, 18 of whom were under the age of 18, have been killed in farm-related workplace incidents involving tractors, vehicles or machinery.
Think, Plan, Act, - Safety
Before silage harvesting on your farm this year, it’s worthwhile taking the time to think, plan & act to make sure this activity will be carried out with safety as a top priority.
The majority of fatalities with tractors and farm machinery involve a combination of poor planning, operator error, lack of training, maintenance issues or the presence of children or elderly people near work activity.
The following is a useful 10 Step Checklist to consider ahead of the silage season:
- Review your Farm Safety Code of Practice particularly the “Harvesting” and “Tractor/Vehicles/Machinery” risk assessment pages.
- Organise the work to avoid the presence of young children or other vulnerable individuals such as elderly family members. The farmyard should be a ’no go area’ for children when silage making is in progress.
- Check tractors and machinery to make sure that they are suitable for the job and properly maintained. Pay particular attention to checking brakes, steering, hitching of trailers and lights, ensuring good driver visibility.
- Tractor mirrors should be repaired/cleaned, set and maintained correctly.
- All cabs and doors should be in good condition.
- Check that all tractor and machinery operators are skilled and competent in the operation of machinery and that they know and understand the system and workflow to be used that puts everyone’s safety first.
- Teenagers should be at least 16 years old and receive proper instruction before they drive tractors during silage making.
- Yards should be free of obstructions to allow the free flow of equipment.
- Well-maintained roadways allow machinery to travel safely at reasonable speeds.
- Safety of the Public – Good visibility is necessary at access points to public roadways. Warning signs and bollards should be used on road verges. Public roadways should be kept free of hazardous materials. This is crucial in wet weather particularly to prevent dangerous road accidents.
The above list is a guide to help you to keep your farm a safe place of work during this silage season and throughout the year. Do what YOU can to help AVOID accidents and injuries happening on your farm.
In this short video below, Brendan Garry, Teagasc Ballinrobe, issues a timely safety at silage appeal to all road users including pedestrians, contractors, farmers, motorists to watch out for this extra machinery on our roads over the next number of months especially now with the silage season well underway in many areas.
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Further Farm Health & Safety Information: