Many serious incidents on farms involve machinery, often during maintenance or unblocking – so it pays to heed advice from the Health and Safety Executive on carrying out those 'fixes' safely.

In maintenance work, conditions are different from those normally encountered and new hazards may be introduced. It is essential that everyone involved is trained to be aware of the hazards and the correct precautions to take to prevent harm.

Here's a few guidelines to help safely carry out maintenance:

Safe Stop:

• Engage handbrake

• Controls in neutral

• Switch off engine (or turn off power)

• Remove key (or lock-off the power supply)

Use Safe Stop:

• Before leaving the driver’s seat;

• When anyone else approaches;

• Before anyone carries out maintenance, adjustments or deals with a blockage.

• Before you start maintenance work.

When you are planning to carrying out maintenance follow the 'safe stop' procedure and make sure:

• All movement has stopped before removing any guards;

• Workers are properly trained to do the job;

• Adequate tools, instructions, and manuals are provided;

• Safe working practices are devised and used;

• Stored energy, eg from compressed material, springs or hydraulics, is released safely before you start work;

• Machines or parts supported by hydraulics are prevented from descending by using mechanical devices such as stops or jacks when people work under them.

Use built-in ladders and other purpose-designed access points and platforms where provided, but where such facilities don’t exist, you will need to consider alternative safe means of access, with measures provided to prevent falls.

When the job is finished, always replace the guards before running the machine.

Check the machine over and make sure people are well clear before restarting.

Isolating equipment:

Isolate machines before any maintenance, cleaning or adjustment.

It is not enough just to switch the machine off – you need to use the main isolator, usually a separate control. If the machine is at some distance from the isolator, or if work in progress is not obvious, remove the fuses from the isolator box and attach a 'danger' tag to it, or lock the isolator box and keep the key safe.

Working at height:

Considering the risks associated with work at height and putting in place sensible and proportionate measures to manage them is an important part of working safely.

Follow this simple step-by-step guide to help you control risks when working at height.

• Can you avoid working at height in the first place? If no, go to prevent

• Do as much work as possible from the ground. Some practical examples include using extendable tools from ground level to remove the need to climb a ladder; installing cables at ground level; lowering a lighting mast to ground level; ground level assembly of edge protection.

Can you prevent a fall from occurring?

You can do this by: Using an existing place of work that is already safe, eg a non-fragile roof with a permanent perimeter guardrail or, if not then use work equipment to prevent people from falling.

Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) such as scissor lifts, tower scaffolds and scaffolds can help minimise risk.

Also consider using safety nets and soft landing systems, eg air bags, installed close to the level of the work.

Using ladders and stepladders

For tasks of low risk and short duration, ladders and stepladders can be a sensible and practical option.

If your risk assessment determines it is correct to use a ladder, you should further minimise the risk by making sure workers: • Use the right type of ladder for the job;

• Are competent (you can provide adequate training and/or supervision);

• Use the equipment provided safely and follow a safe system of work

• Are fully aware of the risks and measures to help control them.

In all cases, though, for each step, consider what is reasonably practicable and use ‘collective protection’ evaluation before ‘personal protection’.