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August 22, 2011

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Farmers given safety tips for the harvest season

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has joined forces with a Hampshire farmer to encourage other farmers to stay safe during the harvest season.

The Union has produced a leaflet to promote the safe use of harvest machinery, which includes advice on:

  • using machines according to the instructions supplied with them;
  • keeping guards in position, and effective;
  • ‘safety checking’ all equipment and put right all defects before each use;
  • check that controls are clearly marked to show what they do and which machine they control, and are designed so you cannot operate them accidentally;
  • training employees to work safely and enduring they are provided with and use necessary protective clothing.

James Hewetson-Brown, who operates an arable farm near Overton, Basingstoke, is helping to promote the safe use of farm machinery. In 2009, one of his employees was badly injured when his hand became trapped in a turf harvester. The worker was trying to clear a blockage from the machine, but the dangerous parts were not guarded and the drive shaft wasn’t disengaged. His coat and glove snagged on a protruding screw and he suffered a broken hand. He was unable to return to work for more than ten weeks owing to his injuries.

Mr Hewetson-Brown is now encouraging other farmers to learn from his mistakes and to carry out checks on their machinery to ensure they are properly safeguarded. He also stressed the importance of having a safe system of work in place for carrying out machine maintenance. He said: “Harvests of all kinds present a busy period for farmers. Everyone is under pressure and may overlook things, or take shortcuts in order to finish jobs on time. But they need to review whether their machinery is properly safeguarded and whether safe systems of work for dealing with blockages and maintenance have been agreed and properly communicated to staff.”

He continued: “Where finances allow, farmers should look to invest in modern technology that should be designed not only to keep everyone safer but increase productivity, too. But where this is not an option older machinery may need its  guarding replaced or improved. In addition, reminding machine drivers of the importance of following ‘safe stop’ procedures before anyone accesses any dangerous parts is very important.”

To view an online version of the safety leaflet, click here.

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