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June Farm Safety Shorts

12 June 2017
Type Media Article

By Anthony O'Connor, Teagasc Adviser, Galway/Clare Unit

During the month of June there's much ado with silage harvesting, breeding season, slurry and fertiliser spreading, dipping and dosing on farms. All of which can pose safety risks. 

Safe Start - A safe start will help you see out the day. On entering your farmyard in the morning, take a look around to see that all is in order and deal with any safety risks. Have a work plan for the day organised. Aim to finish at a certain hour well before the onset of darkness.  

Silage Making - Organisation and communication is vital here, before starting, all involved need to sit down for 5 minutes to discuss their role and positioning during silage making.

  • Stay clear of tractors and mowers when they are in motion. Only approach a mower when tractor engine is stopped.
  • Keep children supervised at all times.
  • Elderly farmers need to stay clear of any working machinery.
  • Be Safe, Be Seen. Wear a high visibility vest when working near pit. Stay off pit or clamp.
  • Let the Loader do the work. Keep clear of backing tractors and trailers.

Slurry and Fertiliser Spreading - Check all machinery before starting any slurry or fertiliser spreading tasks.

  • Ensure PTO guards are in place. Avoid wearing loose clothing or jackets with dangling drawstrings or cords.
  • The braking system of the tractor, including the handbrake, needs to be in perfect working condition.
  • For a clear view, clean windscreen, mirrors, rear window and side windows on the tractor before starting.
  • Plan to carry out all tasks safely. Avoid rushing any job. Drive machinery slowly in farmyards and over rough ground.

When agitating slurry, no children, older farmers or bystanders should be present.  Open all doors and outlets to ensure thorough ventilation.  Remove all stock from slatted sheds before agitating. Never enter a cattle shed when it is being agitated.  As many deaths associated with slurry are due to drowning, caution is urged when working close to open slurry manholes. Close safety grills and agitation points after each use.

Stock Bulls - With the breeding season in full swing, a strong chain should be fitted to the nose ring for safety and to keep better control of the bull.  This should prevent the bull from running or charging. Never turn your back to a bull at any time. Stock bulls will be anxious to protect the breeding herd. When herding, use a vehicle as a mobile sanctuary in case of an attack. Bring a fully charged mobile phone with you. Show zero tolerance towards any bull showing signs of aggression. Cull the bull! Be aware that there's no such thing as a quiet breed of bull.  

Grazing Animals - When treating any sick or lame calf, ensure animal is safely penned away from their dam. 

Herding - When checking cows and calves, avoid bringing dogs with you. Cows will feel their calf is threatened and may attack both dog and person.  Use a vehicle as a mobile sanctuary. 

Dipping and Dosing Stock - When treating stock, organisation is vital.  Work in pairs, know what your work partner is doing/positioned at all times. Wear protective gloves and clothing when using pour-ons or when dipping flock. Any chemical coming in contact with skin should be washed away immediately. With cattle, avoid using dogs; use a stick to guide stock when moving them. Never enter a cattle crush or leave hands on rails when cattle are in it. Wear protective gloves if using pour-ons.