Appeal for extra vigilance on rural roads as silage season kicks off
All rural dwellers and visitors to rural areas have been urged to be extra vigilant over the next few weeks which tend to be a particularly busy period on Irish farms.
Denis Drennan from Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association’s explained that many farmyards will be a hive of activity with contractors and farmers under pressure to harvest silage as quickly as possible.
"It's crucial that both farmers and contractors ensure that all work is carried out in a safe environment and at no time should safety standards be relaxed," he said.
He appealed to all other road users – and most particularly, visitors to farming areas - to be aware of the dangers of increased agricultural traffic on rural roads and the need to slow down and “expect the unexpected” around the next corner.
The ICMSA spokesperson said that special responsibility obviously falls on contractors and he specified two areas: special extra or auxiliary ‘work’ lighting mounted on tractors which Mr. Drennan said must be turned off when the tractors are out of the fields on roads and also the need for contractors to pull in regularly and let tailbacks pass them and so avoid risky overtaking.
It comes as the Health and Safety Authority began an intensive inspection campaign last month with a focus on the safe use of tractors and machinery on farms.
Over the last 10 years, (2009 – 2018) over half (51pc) of all fatal farm injuries involved vehicles (30pc) and machinery (21pc).
In recent years there has been a sharp increase in the number of fatalities involving farm vehicles, particularly quad bikes with four related deaths in 2017 alone.
According to Pat Griffin, Senior Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority, “We’re running this inspection campaign earlier this year to give farmers plenty of time to plan for the safe use of tractors and machinery ahead of the busy silage harvesting season.
"Our message is clear, advance preparation and formal training is the key to working safely with machinery on farms.
"Farmers must make sure they have the necessary skills and competence to do the job safely.
"The condition of the machinery is also vital and any required maintenance should be addressed without delay”.