Be Winter Ready
Serena Gibbons, Education Officer, Teagasc Galway/Clare, reminds us that it is important to continue to keep safety high on the priority list as the farmyard is a hazardous place.
Winter jobs are in full swing on all farms, it is often easier to manage your herd when the winter from autumn transition is complete, having all animals in the one place for the next few months. It is important to continue to keep safety high on the priority list as the farmyard is a hazardous place. New data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) has revealed that there were 4,523 accidents on Irish farms in the year 2020.The NFS Survey also indicates that the majority of farm accidents occurred in farmyards (58%) while 29% of accidents happened in farm building. In almost half of cases (47%) the injured persons required more than 3 days absence from farm work, the threshold for legal accident reporting.
Serena discusses the recent data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) highlighting the number and location of accidents on farms on a recent episode of the OviCast Podcast.
She highlights the extra challenges the recent cold snap poses and has some practical tips to deal with it as well as the need for some caution around routine tasks. With a lot of work conducted in the evenings in farm yards, Serena details the importance of good yard lighting and why some jobs are better suited to daylight hours. Serena also talks about the need for added safety around machinery during the winter period both for the operator and other individuals on the farm, with Serena highlighting some safety aspects in relation to road use that are particularly important at this stage of the year. Finally, Serena explains the importance of having your mobile phone on you and making others aware of where you will be while working alone should anything go wrong.
After an unseasonably warm start to November, we are now experiencing a drop in temperatures, with some frosty mornings. As the winter progresses we will be experiencing more icy mornings around the yard. Be prepared by having clear routes around farm buildings. Ensure you have a stock of gritting material and salt. A slip or fall can have devastating consequences, having some preventative measures in place could help avoid such injuries. Take action to divert water from routes that are used multiple times a day, which can become slippery. It is important to wear suitable warm clothing and always have your mobile phone especially when working alone. Try to prevent water supplies freezing up. Some work on insulating pipes now could help reduce the need to move water manually if a very cold spell of weather arrives.
Good lights have a dramatically 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.
Calving will form a large part of the workload over the coming months, some farms are already well through autumn calving with further arrivals due in the spring. It is very important to remember that animals guarding their young can be more aggressive and unpredictable than usual, having good facilities in place will help avoid a near miss or worse. Take the time to pen cows or heifers properly that are showing signs of calving. Make sure there is always a way to put a physical barrier between you and the animals if the cow needs assistance during calving or when helping the calf to suck.
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.
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 in early mornings/evenings. Avoid busy roads whenever possible. Try to keep windows washed and clean to increase all visibility. Ensure the spotlight at the rear of tractor is turned off while using public roads.
Tractors must be well maintained. Poorly applied or faulty handbrakes have contributed to a high number of injuries and fatalities on farms in recent years. The 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 handbrake test takes less than 5 minutes to complete, simply engage the handbrake, put the tractor in gear and move forward, if the tractor stalls, the handbrake is working, if the tractor moves forward freely, the handbrake requires repair, its really important that you make this a priority repair.
Keeping these points in mind during the winter months will help reduce the risk of accidents on your farmyard.
Be Prepared, Stay Safe and know where to find help should you need it
The ‘Be Winter-Ready’ campaign, which is in its twelfth year, is intended to raise awareness about the particular challenges that winter can present.
Download the Be Winter Ready Booklet 2022 - The Be Winter Ready Booklet has been prepared as part of the Government of Ireland initiative to assist households in preparing for winter while also living with the impacts of COVID-19.