HSENI calls on farmers to check equipment over the autumn months

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As autumn approaches and as work pressures change, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is urging farmers to make sure their machinery and equipment is properly serviced and repaired over the coming months.

While modern farm machinery and equipment allow farmers to work more quickly and efficiently, they also present many dangers if not properly maintained.

Before carrying out any repairs, the appropriate equipment must be used for the job, such as wheel chocks and a trolley jack or suitable props. Farmers should also consider employing a competent mechanic to carry out repairs.

Urging farmers to take a closer look at the maintenance of their machinery and equipment, and reminding them of the risks involved during maintenance work, Head of HSENI’s Farm Safety Team, Malcolm Downey, said: “Maintaining equipment poses its own dangers. For example, many machines and attachments for tractors are powered by hydraulics where oil is pumped through pipes at very high pressures. These high pressures mean that should you place a finger near any leak in a hydraulic hosepipe, oil can be forced under the skin, causing potentially serious injuries that require immediate medical attention.

“If you are checking hydraulic pipes for leaks, use a piece of card rather than your hand or fingers. Never repair or replace damaged pipes or couplings when the machinery is being operated.

“Also, take a look at your PTO guarding. Damaged or badly fitting PTO guards are as dangerous as an unguarded PTO shaft as they can easily give a false sense of security and increase the danger.

“Never take chances by using poorly maintained or faulty equipment, even for the smallest job.”

The following HSENI checklist should help you and others to stay safe on your farm.

Always

l keep all guards in place on tractors and equipment, especially PTO guards

l make sure that all mirrors and cameras (if fitted) are clean and fully functional on tractors and telescopic handlers

l make sure equipment is stopped fully before clearing blockages

l operate tractors with enclosed safety cabs or roll bars

l take care when mounting or dismounting tractors or telescopic handlers

l keep the brakes on all your machines properly maintained, especially the parking brakes

l only start your tractor from the driver’s seat

l make sure that your tractor’s starter system works properly

l when pulling heavy machinery equipped with hydraulic brakes, make sure the brakes are connected to the tractor and work properly

Never

l attempt to repair machinery if you do not have the correct tools and equipment and are not competent to do so

l run a tractor down a slope to start it

l work near overhead power lines when tipping trailers or using high reaching machinery

l check hydraulic pipes for leaks by running your finger or hand along them while they are connected and under pressure

Accidents involving equipment is one of four areas targeted by the Farm Safety Partnership’s farm safety campaign, ‘Stop and Think SAFE’. The four main causes of death and injury on our farms are slurry, animals, falls and equipment (SAFE).

To find out more about the ‘Stop and Think SAFE’ campaign, please contact the HSENI helpline on 0800 0320 121 or visit www.hseni.gov.uk/farmsafe