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HSE Agriculture e-Bulletin December 2014

Welcome to the HSE Agriculture e-Bulletin

As the festive season approaches we would like to wish all our subscribers a Happy Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year. Remember to ‘Make the promise. Come home safe’ to your family and loved ones as you celebrate the season and look forward to 2015.

In this edition, we cover maintenance and repair work to roofs and farm transport.  

Our next edition will also be during the winter months so will focus on machinery maintenance around the farm and controlling risks during lambing time.

Working on your building roof this winter?

With the winter storms setting in and snow forecast it’s the time of year when roofs get damaged and unsafe roof repairs can lead to life changing serious injuries and family tragedies. If your roof needs attention then do take a few minutes to decide your best course of action.

Stop and think: Can you really do that repair yourself?  Do you know what the right access equipment is?  Do you have it or can you borrow or hire it? Are you agile and fit enough to do the work?  Is it still windy? Remember carrying roof sheets in gusty or windy conditions can blow you off the roof, or a ladder, without warning.

Consider getting a professional qualified person to do the work.  If you are going to do the work yourself make sure you have the right equipment organised before you start the job. 

Ask yourself: have you got enough help? Is the roof fragile?  What about skylights?  Is the roof too damaged to take your weight?  How are you going to prevent a fall from a height?

Check: is your ladder in good condition?  Consider: whether it would be better to hire a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP).

And what about snow loading?  Over the last couple of winters there have been plenty of cases of agricultural buildings collapsing under heavy snow.  Work out your emergency plan – no one has been killed yet saving the tractor, or the cows, from a collapsing building but it could easily happen. Don’t let it be you.

Carrying out maintenance work on your vehicle?

With the bad weather approaching it is also time to check your vehicle lights, tyres, brakes, mirrors etc – not just for the road but for moving around the farm too.

Always follow the safe stop procedure before making any adjustments on a machine. 

You may already be aware that the Government has announced plans to increase the maximum speed of tractors on the road and also an increase in the maximum weight of tractor and trailer combinations. With these changes in mind we urge farmers to make sure they carry out adequate maintenance of their tractors and trailers.

Use the NFU/BAGMA checklist to help you stay safe this winter and maintenance of vehicles and machinery guidance.

Take care with wheels and tyres

You may think it’s a straightforward task dealing with a tyre on your Landrover but the safety risks increase considerably when changing wheels on mobile farm machinery. Two farmers were recently killed in Ireland when a tyre rim burst and blew off the wheel and struck them whilst they attempted to deal with a flat tyre on a potato harvester.

Never underestimate the risks - whether the job is part of routine maintenance, fitting dual wheels or when dealing with a flat tyre.

Visit the agriculture website topic page for further guidance on Safe working with wheels and tyres.

Safety warning to farmers entering grain silos with the auger running

Farmers are being urged to take extra care following the conclusion of a fatal accident inquiry into the tragic death of a 66-year-old, a self-employed who died after he became entangled with a sweep auger in a grain silo. 

Do not enter grain silos with the auger running – use the safe stop procedure. 

Fatal injuries in farming, forestry, horticulture and associated industries 2013/14

Figures published in the Health and Safety Executive’s report 'Fatal injuries in farming, forestry, horticulture and associated industries 2013/14' show that 31 people were killed as a result of farming and other agriculture-related activities during the year.

The report shows that transport-related injuries were responsible for more deaths than any other cause. It also highlights trends and provides summaries of fatalities involving employees, the self-employed and members of the public.  

Safety and Health Awareness Days (SHADs)

This year’s farming programme of Safety and Health Awareness Days (SHADs) is well under way and we have recently added a number of events to our diary.

SHADs offer an opportunity for farmers and farm workers to gain free advice, from trained instructors on how to avoid the common causes of accidents and ill health on their farms.

If you are a family self-employed farmer, or employ up to four people then SHADs are designed for you. In fact, independent research showed that 99% of farmers that attended said that they would recommend them to other farmers.

If you have received an invitation then please treat it as a positive opportunity and book yourself a place on the invite reply slip or by email to [email protected].

If you have not attended a SHAD before and would like to find one in your area; please visit our farming SHAD page.

Why not take a look at our short film to listen to the views of some farmers who have attended an event Farmers' views video

New guidance

Acetylene cylinders should be transported in open vehicles. If this is not reasonably practicable and acetylene cylinders or an oxy/acetylene set has to be carried in the rear of a closed van, it is necessary to ensure adequate ventilation is available to the load space of the vehicle. 

Research was recently carried out into how ventilation in the rear of enclosed vans affects the build-up of acetylene gas. Acetylene is an extremely flammable gas and can form an explosive atmosphere in the presence of air or oxygen.  The gas has an unusually wide explosive limit which means that even a small leak in an enclosed space can cause an explosive atmosphere to build up. 

A fatal accident occurred when a van carrying oxy-acetylene welding equipment exploded. 

The dramatic effects of an explosion can be viewed. The footage shows what can happen when acetylene gas leaking from welding equipment, that is being stored in the back of a van, mixes with oxygen in the air and is ignited.

Recent prosecution

A 65-year-old north Norfolk gamekeeper was given a suspended prison sentence for seven wildlife offences.  

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