WITH SILAGE-MAKING under way in Scotland, rural insurer NFU Mutual has shared a farm safety checklist to help farmers keep this year’s silage-making season accident and injury free.

Managing director of NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Limited, Ian Jewitt, said: “This year’s silage-making is already presenting challenges to many farms – particularly smaller units which don’t normally need staff beyond their own family members and need to put in place procedures to enable social distancing to be maintained.

“The Coronavirus outbreak means that everyone is having to cope with different ways of working and that brings new stresses and anxieties to everyone involved in food production.

“It’s work that has to be done to ensure that farms have stored fodder to feed cattle through next winter – but it’s vital that safe working procedures are in place to protect farmers, their families, staff and contractors from Coronavirus infection," said Mr Jewitt.

To help farmers through what it described as 'one of the most challenging periods since the Second World War', NFU Mutual has also launched a free online Coronavirus Health and Safety Service for its farming and other rural business customers. Farmers can make a request online to get a call back from a health and safety consultant as well as being able to download online resources from www.nfumutual.co.uk/business-service

NFU Mutual silage safety checklist

• Regularly check moving parts of mowers, tedders, forage harvesters and balers for wear or damage and carry out all recommended maintenance;

• Switch off engines and ensure parts have stopped before clearing blockages or carrying out maintenance. Remove the keys as well to prevent accidental starting;

• Put in place a system for keeping in contact with lone workers;

• Keep mobile ‘phones on your person - not left in a tractor or pick up cab;

• Make sure drivers are aware of the locations and heights of overhead power lines (OHPL’s) and check that the machinery will safely pass under wires and restrictions. Contact with high reach vehicles such as forage harvesters can be fatal;

• Keep children away from working areas;

• Ensure all PTO shafts are properly guarded to protect against the risks of entanglement and entrapment, which can prove fatal;

• Never overfill a silage clamp as this increases the risk of vehicles overturning when rolling or filling;

• For indoor clamps, keep away for the first 72 hours as this is when the dangerous gas Nitrogen Dioxide can form in large quantities;

• Take care when working at height on the silage clamp and ensure any unguarded edges are identified by sight rails;

• If possible, use a hook or a pole to keep away from the edge of the face when unsheeting or removing tyres;

• Where staff and contractors are working with you keep to social distancing of two metres away;

• Avoid shaking hands or physical contact;

• Tell staff and contractors in advance that they will need to bring their own packed lunch and consume it at least two metres away from others;

• Vehicles should not be shared if possible and avoid having more than one person in a vehicle where possible;

• When vehicles must be shared, occupants should wear a face covering and keep the windows open;

• Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or more and more frequently than normal or use 70% alcohol hand sanitisers where this is not possible, e.g. if you are away from the yard;

• Make sure any shared vehicles and equipment are thoroughly cleaned and sanitised including door handles, seat belt buckles, steering wheel, gear stick, controls, and vehicle sun visors before and after use;

• Instruct staff and contractors daily to only come into work if they are well and no one in their household is self-isolating;

• Make sure new staff are properly inducted and trained for the work you give them – in particular the dangers of working around farm machinery and the risks of being on a silage clamp;

• Supervise new staff closely until you are sure they are competent to do the work;

• Ensure trailers are road legal with fully maintained and working brakes, lights, indicators, and flashing beacons;

• Take special care to check for following vehicles before turning right into fields or yards as this is a common cause of serious accidents;

• Always work safely when consolidating the silage clamp.

More information about safe working during the coronavirus outbreak is available from NFU Mutual’s website: www.nfumutual.co.uk/business-service