Agricultural Safety: Avoiding Accidents and Emergencies with Farming
Operating agricultural machinery needs a level of expertise that can only be reached through training and practice. However, even for the most experienced of operators, the risk of injury is always apparent, and the very nature of agricultural machinery means that possible injuries can be extremely severe or even fatal. Safety at work is imperative for people in all occupations, and agriculture is no exception: the unique design and function of farming machinery means they require specialist training in order to ensure safe operation.
The most common cause of serious injuries and fatalities in the agriculture industry is vehicles; more specifically, moving and overturning vehicles. In order to minimise the risk of these types of issues, a Safe Stop initiative is in place for users of agricultural vehicles. The stages of Safe Stop are:
- Engage handbrake
- Set controls to neutral
- Switch engine/power off
- Remove key/lock power supply
These steps should be followed before leaving the vehicle, when another individual approaches the vehicle and whenever any maintenance is being carried out on the vehicle.
There are a number of checks that need to be carried out on all agricultural vehicles, machines and handling equipment.
- Make sure whatever agricultural equipment you are operating is suitable and capable of performing the tasks at hand
- Daily inspections should be carried out wherever possible, and any faults found must be repaired as quickly as possible
- Proper, thorough maintenance is crucial, especially concerning brakes
- Audible alarms should be present on vehicles to alert people when reversing
Make sure that all vehicles that require operators to work or ride on them are fitted with seatbelts and roll-over protective structures (ROPS).
It’s also important that those who operate loaders and lift trucks have suitable protection from falling objects, and that all loads are stable and secure. Brakes must be suitable for the maximum load capacity and speed of the vehicle.
All drivers must be:
- Medically fit to drive their vehicles
- Authorised and trained for their vehicles – unauthorised personnel are forbidden from operating the vehicle
- Aware of safe entry and exit procedures relating to the vehicles they operate
Nobody should mount or dismount a vehicle when it is in motion, and passengers in cabs must be seated safely and in a position where they do not obstruct the driver’s vision or access to the controls.
There are numerous checks required to ensure the safety of a site:
- Warning signs should be clear and adhere to the Highway Code
- All traffic routes should be properly maintained and appropriately illuminated
- Said routes should minimise the need to reverse
- All drivers, including visiting ones, should be aware of your site rules
- Separate vehicles and pedestrians where possible
- If possible, there should be separate doorways for pedestrians and vehicles
The Safe Stop, Vehicle, Driver and Site procedures can be extremely effective when they’re used appropriately. While no practice can completely eliminate the risk of accidents, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of injury and damage to equipment if the above rules are followed.
Health and Safety Training UK are the North East’s leading provider of health and safety training for materials handling, construction and plant equipment. We’re accredited by the most respected bodies in our industry including NPORS, RTITB, NUCO, PASMA and IPAF. For more information about our work, please get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to help.
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