Better communication can help reduce silage season safety hazards

Safety guidelines: The silage harvest season sees a big increase in machinery-related injuries and fatalities every year
Safety guidelines: The silage harvest season sees a big increase in machinery-related injuries and fatalities every year
Derek Casey

Derek Casey

The months of May, June and July are notoriously dangerous in Irish farming, and typically see a surge in machinery-related fatalities and accidents every year.

With this in mind, the Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) has published a safety factsheet for contractors and farmers for the 2019 silage harvest.

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The FCI Factsheet provides guidance and examples of what both farmers and contractors can do to keep each other, and their staff, safe during the busy silage-making time.

It highlights the need for better communications as a key method approach to help to reduce accidents around the busy silage harvesting time.

Having a face-to-face or over-the-phone meeting before work starts can help farmers and contractors to reach a common understanding and establish clear roles, responsibilities and actions. It will also prevent any gaps in managing health and safety risks.

What can contractors and farmers do?

Michael Moroney, FCI Chief Executive, said contractors must make sure that any risks from their work that could affect the farmer, farm workers or other contractors on the farm are reasonably managed.

If a risk can't be eliminated, then it must be minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.

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Equally, he said that farmers must ensure any risks from farm work are reasonably managed to protect the health and safety of contractors.

Risks from any previous work carried out on the farm (for example, land drainage, levelling or spraying hazardous substances) should be managed to protect the health and safety of contractors.

In addition, farm buildings and any area where work is being carried out, should be made safe for everyone; this would include any risks from low overhead wires being made known to the contractor for the safety of tractor drivers with tipping trailers.

Other suggestions from the FCI include having a face-to-face or over-the-phone chat before any work starts. This can help farmers and contractors to reach a common understanding and establish clear roles, responsibilities and actions. It will also prevent any gaps in managing health and safety risks.

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