Keep safe in rush for record silage crops, NFU Mutual warns

Farmers' efforts to produce record silage crops this spring could put their safety at risk, NFU Mutual has warned
Farmers' efforts to produce record silage crops this spring could put their safety at risk, NFU Mutual has warned

Concern has been raised over a potential slip in on-farm safety standards as farmers rush to produce record silage crops this spring amid soaring prices.

Rising fertiliser and animal feed prices mean that farm-grown silage will be more important than ever to feed livestock next winter.

With crucial first-cut silage making about to start, and farmers striving to produce top quality silage, NFU Mutual has warned not to let safety standards slip.

Farmers are being encouraged by the rural insurer to carry out regular maintenance on silage machinery.

The Tilly Your Trailer initiative enables farmers to get their trailers inspected and get a Tilly Pass which confirms that trailers are safe for road use and comply with safety legislation.

Andy Manson, managing director of NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Ltd, said: “Making sure machinery is fit for the job makes harvesting go smoothly and cuts the risk of accidents.

"It’s particularly important to check the tyres, brakes and couplings of silage trailers, which may not have been used for months before suddenly getting pressed into action.

“Accidents tend to happen when people work too long, push machinery too hard or take risks to get crops in before the weather turns."

Silage safety checklist

NFU Mutual has issued guidance for farmers to ensure silage is safe this year:

Before silage harvesting

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

• Make sure drivers are aware of the locations and heights of overhead power lines and check that your machinery will safely pass under wires and restrictions

• Make sure new staff are properly inducted and trained for the work you give them – in particular the dangers of working around farm machinery

• Put in place measures to ensure children are kept away from working areas

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

Working in the fields

• Regularly check moving parts of mowers, tedders, forage harvesters and balers, including guards and PTO shafts for wear or damage

• Carry out all recommended maintenance on schedule

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

• Switch off engines and ensure parts have stopped before clearing blockages or carrying out maintenance - remove keys as well to prevent accidental starting

• Keep a mobile on you at all times - not left in a tractor or pick-up cab

• Take regular breaks to eat, drink and rest to stave off tiredness

Working on silage clamps

• 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 dangerous nitrogen dioxide gas can form in large quantities

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