Pre-harvest safety briefing 'could save lives'

Harvest is an 'intense time of year' so making time to brief all employees is 'essential'
Harvest is an 'intense time of year' so making time to brief all employees is 'essential'

Farms are recommended to hold pre-harvest health and safety briefings as a reminder to all staff of the risks involved during this time of year.

Farms become busier not only in terms of workload but also machinery movements and numbers of employees.

Pre-harvest briefings are recommended as a way of reinforcing the importance of health and safety issues.

According to Strutt & Parker, they are a practical way of providing employees – and family members – with the information that they need to stay safe.

It follows a campaign by the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) which aims to reduce on-farm deaths and injuries by 50 percent by 2023.

Robert Gazely, safety specialist with Strutt & Parker, said harvest is an 'intense time of year' so making time to brief all employees, both new and existing, is 'essential'.

“Other considerations at this time of year include ensuring that machinery servicing and maintenance, including record keeping, is up-to-date and making sure everyone is familiar with the safe stop policy,” said Mr Gazely.

“This requires drivers to use the handbrake, put the controls in neutral, switch off the engine and remove the key every time they leave the seat or when anyone else approaches.”

What to include in safety briefings

Safety briefings should include information such as the location of first aid kits, accident books, assembly points, fire extinguishers and electric isolation points.

Workers should know who the qualified first aiders are and who to report any accidents and injuries or any damage or defects to machinery.

They should also be provided with a copy of the farm’s working health and safety policy, risk assessments and safe systems of work, and should sign to confirm they have read and will comply.

A map showing workers the location of all overhead and underground services is another essential step, Mr Gazely said.

If taking on temporary workers, it is also important to assess their competence and check what certificates they hold and take a copy of them, and to ascertain their prior level of knowledge and experience.

If employees are not instructed and trained in the use of machinery or equipment, they must not operate it unless under the direct supervision of a qualified member of staff or trainer.