Learn key tips on improving safety for those working and living on farms

The following farm safety information was published recently on the StaySafe UK website and is reproduced here for our local farm-based users.

Children on the Farm

1. Provide supervision and training

  • Children should be supervised while on the farm at all times and be made aware of any safety issues.
  • Older children working on the farm, should be given proper training and only carry out work they are fit to do and for shorter periods of time.

2. Prevent access to dangerous areas and height

  • Children should never be able to access height or dangerous areas of the farm such as open water tanks, wells, slurry tanks and ditches. All of these areas should be securely fenced, locked and inaccessible to children.

3. Keep children away from machinery and vehicles

  • Machinery and vehicles should also be kept well away from children.
  • Children under the age of 13 must not drive, operate or ride as a passenger on tractors, ATS’s or other farm machinery.
  • Older children are allowed to drive and operate vehicles but must receive full training and wear a seatbelt at all times.
  • See tips on staying safe around machinery and moving vehicles.

4. Keep children at a safe distance from livestock

  • Children should never be left unsupervised around livestock and should be kept at a safe distance, on the other side of a fence or gate.
  • Keep children away from bulls, stallions, rams, stags and female animals with new-born young as well as any animal known to become easily distressed.
  • See tips on staying safe around livestock below.

5. Keep chemicals and tools properly stored, locked away and out of reach

  • Chemicals, tools and equipment must be completely inaccessible to children.

6. Have a dedicated safe play area for younger children

  • In addition to fencing off dangerous areas, you should create a cornered off, dedicated safe area for younger children to play in. The area must be in full view of the dwelling house or adult supervision and be completely free of hazards.

Moving Vehicles

1. Keep vehicles well maintained

  • Vehicles should be inspected daily before use and any repairs carried out immediately. Some things to look out for include:
    • Mirrors are properly fitted and kept clean
    • All parts are in good condition and properly fitted
    • Tires are in working condition
    • Brakes are in full working order

2. Ensure drivers are fit to drive

  • All drivers should be trained and authorised to drive a vehicle before operating it on their own. You must ensure that all drivers are medically fit to drive, and are able to take breaks to avoid fatigue.

3. Practice Safe Stop procedures

  • If you are stopping or exiting a vehicle you must follow these safe stop procedures:
    • Put the handbrake on
    • Make sure the controls are in neutral
    • Stop the engine (or turn off power)
    • Remove the key (or lock-off the power supply)

4. Ensure site and driving routes are safe

  • Regular driving sites and routes should be regularly maintained. Routes need to be kept clear and obstructions removed immediately.
  • Routes should also be well lit and warning and speed signs must be visible, clear and consistent with the Highway Code.

5. Ensure non-drivers’ safety is maintained

  • The safety of livestock and individuals is just as important as the driver’s. Therefore, vehicle routes should be kept away from populated areas where possible.
  • Routes should avoid the need to reverse and all vehicles must be fitted with audible reversing alerts.
  • When a non-driver needs to approach a vehicle, they must first attract the driver’s attention and ensure that they have stopped before moving closer.

6. Wear high visibility clothing

  • For those working nearby moving vehicles, high visibility clothing is important so that you are as visible to the driver as possible. This may be particularly important when working in the dark and in weather conditions such as fog and rain.

Handling Livestock

1. Provide staff training

  • All handlers must be fully trained and competent to handle livestock. Training can be provided by an experience colleague and new staff should be supervised for a period of time following training.

2. Understand animal behaviour and stress triggers

  • Animals respond well to routine and are easily startled by sudden movement, loud sounds and bright lights. Make sure you are calm and deliberate when working with livestock and approach animals from the front. Never turn your back on cattle and avoid shouting at, beating or using electric goads. Your animals will remember bad experiences.

3. Provide and maintain proper facilities and equipment

  • Providing restraining and handling equipment is extremely important when handling livestock for routine tasks. When dealing with larger animals, equipment such as halters, bull poles and pig boards should be used.
  • Animals must also be properly contained and unable to move during treatments. Shedding gates, races and crushes should be used, secured and properly maintained.
  • If an animal is likely to kick, leg restraints should also be used.

4. Wear personal protective equipment

  • Work shoes or boots should always be worn when working with livestock to prevent crushing. Non-skid soles can always be useful to prevent slips.
  • Wearing gloves is also necessary to protect hands from chemicals, faeces or disease from spreading.
  • You may also want to consider other equipment such as dust masks.

5. Leave a clear exit path

  • Many injuries are caused by startled animals pinning their handler to a surface. Ensure you have enough space to work in and have a clear exit path if the animal shows sign of distress.

6. Follow strict hygiene procedures

  • To avoid spreading disease, you must follow strict hygiene procedures when handling livestock and disposing of animal waste. If a disease outbreak occurs, you must report the incident to the proper authorities and strictly follow their instructions.

 Operating Machinery

1. Provide Staff Training

  • All operators, whether a full time employee or casual or seasonal worker, must be fully trained on how to operate any machinery they are required to use as part of their job.
  • Relevant training for machines can be given by experienced colleagues or through an external training provider.
  • You should also ensure that all operators have read and understand any machine manuals and have them on hand at all times for reference.

2. Safeguard your machines

  • Safeguards refer to:
  • Safeguards should be provided by the supplier and properly fitted to the machine to prevent access to dangerous parts.
    • Guards
    • Interlocks
    • Two-hand controls
    • Light guards
    • Pressure sensitive matts etc.

3. Regularly inspect and maintain machines

  • Thorough inspections of the machine should be carried out on a set, regular basis. Some things you will need to look out for are;
    • Mechanical defects
    • Blockages and leaks
    • Correct fitting of all parts
    • Condition of all parts
    • Cleanliness of windows and mirrors
  • Pay particular attention to brakes, wheels, tires, guards and stop devices e.g. emergency stops.

4. Dress appropriately when operating

  • When operating any type of machinery, ensure clothing is snag free and all laces, hair, jewellery and loose material (even loose threads!) are properly tied or removed.
  • In some cases, PPE may be necessary such as safety glasses, hearing protection and safety shoes.

5. Stay vigilant and focused

  • Always be aware of your surroundings when operating machines and ensure you are confident in triggering an emergency stop.
  • Ensure you are well rested and are taking breaks when needed. Fatigue can be extremely dangerous when operating machinery.

6. Ensure machines are properly shut down, isolated and locked when not in use

  • Proper shutting down of machinery should be carried out before leaving the drivers seat and before anyone carries out any maintenance or adjustments.
  • Many serious and fatal accidents have occurred when operators have tried to fix a problem or clear the area around a machine, without properly shutting it down.
  • If you are exiting the machine or are carrying out any maintenance or adjustments, follow safe stop procedures to prevent accidental injury:
    • Put the handbrake on.
    • Make sure the controls are in neutral.
    • Stop the engine.
    • Remove the key (or lock-off the power supply).

If you would like to talk to us about using StaySafe to reduce the risks of working alone on a farm or rural property, please use this form to get in touch:

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