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Silage season drives Irish regulator’s focus on farm vehicle and machinery safety

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) in the Republic of Ireland plans to launch a two-week farm inspection campaign on 8 May to encourage safer working practices ahead of the silage season.

Silage season drives Irish regulator’s focus on farm vehicle and machinery safety
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The Irish regulator has planned about 200 inspections during the two-week blitz, with a focus on safe working with vehicles and machinery, the main cause of serious and fatal accidents.

Inspectors will look at the suitability of operators, the machinery and how work is done, particularly during busy periods in the farming calendar. 

Over the past ten years, half of all fatal farm accidents have involved vehicles (30%) and machinery (20%). The HSA reports that 203 people were killed in farm-related activities between 2008 and 2017.

It added there has been a sharp increase in the number of fatalities involving quad bikes, one of the two main types of farm vehicles along with tractors, with 12 deaths reported over the past decade. In 2017, quad bike accidents resulted in four fatalities. 

The Irish regulator said that most of the accidents involve at least one of the following: poor planning, operator error, lack of training and inadequate maintenance. 

Inspectors will visit farms and ask farmers to look at handbrakes and parking brakes and ensure they are working properly on all tractors and machinery. They will check that cabs and doors are maintained in working order and that tractor mirrors are set and maintained correctly. Inspectors will also ask whether the vehicle operator has ever received formal driver training for tractors and quad bikes.

“All farmers should organise their work in a way that is efficient and safe,” said Pat Griffin, senior inspector for agriculture and forestry safety at the HSA. 

“This means having rules in place in relation to who uses which vehicle or machine, establishing one-way systems, safe routes within fields and in and out of gates, care when reversing and who is in overall charge of the work. The person in overall charge must be realistic about how much work can be done and how many hours operators can safely work.”

 

Nic Warburton is acting editor, IOSH Magazine

 Nick Warburton is acting editor of IOSH Magazine. He is a former editor of SHP and has also worked on Local Authority Waste and Recycling and Environmental Health Practitioner

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