Farmed and dangerous? Machinery poses a major risk on farms

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In recent years, work-related fatalities in the UK and Ireland’s farming industries have been disproportionate compared to the number of deaths in other industries.

Farm Safety Week’s Tuesday theme is Machinery - poorly used or faulty machinery being a major cause of death and injury on farms. Farmers come into contact with a host of machinery daily - combines, choppers and hay balers which bring their own attendant dangers. Hands, hair and clothing can be caught by unguarded PTO shafts or other unguarded moving parts such as pulleys and belts. People can be injured by front-end loaders, falling from a moving tractor or being struck by its wheels. 

Machinery accidents can be prevented by keeping the machine in good repair, fitting and ensuring all safety equipment (such as guards, safe access platforms and ROPS on tractors) is operating correctly at all times, and not taking risks when working with powerful machinery.

According to Barclay Bell, President of the Ulster Farmer’s Union (UFU): “Over the course of this week, we will have five days, five themes and five countries with one very clear question – “Who Would Fill Your Boots?” if you were to have a farm accident. The initiative is supported by the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health and Safety Executive, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) and the Health and Safety Authority, Ireland and aims to educate and inspire a drive to improve agriculture’s poor safety record.

“As a farmer myself I know that almost everyone in farming knows somebody who has been injured or killed in an accident, and the reality is that many of these accidents are preventable by sticking to safety rules.

“This Farm Safety Week we are joining forces with our counterparts in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland to warn against complacency at work. Agricultural machinery is dangerous and can rip off a limb or kill in seconds. Make sure you use the ‘Stop and Think SAFE’ approach and remember that you are the most important asset on your farm. Farmers need to take care of themselves so that their families don’t have to cope without them because of poor physical or mental health, serious injury - or worse. Ensure PTO guards are correctly used and maintained and always take your time to think about what you are doing as making a few simple checks could actually save a life – maybe your own!”