Opinion

Make safety a priority over the coming days

Farmers and contractors will be working around the clock to get the grass silage season wrapped up over the coming days. But will safety be made a priority?

And there is also the maize, potato and beet harvest to be sorted out. No doubt, the coming days will see our country roads bedecked with tractors and machinery of all shapes and sizes.

Yes, there is a need to get the harvest completed. But farmers and contractors must make sure that, in so doing, they are not putting themselves in harm’s way. Nothing can compensate for the loss of a loved one or a life-changing injury.

Adding to the health and safety challenge over the coming days is the fact that school children will be on their half-term holidays.

It goes without saying that every effort must be made by those operating machinery that these young people are not put at risk.

Farming has the unenviable reputation of being the most dangerous way of life that anyone can follow.

The continuing litany of farm accidents is proof positive of this being the case.

Rushing to get jobs done and working overly long hours are two ways of adding to the health and safety risks, which farmers expose themselves to.

And these are factors that may well come into play over the coming days.

In light of this, farmers must take the time to plan their schedules properly. They should also ensure that all the machinery they use is totally fit-for-purpose. And if this means getting a mechanic or engineer to give equipment a once-over before the field work begins, so be it.

I know that many farmers are very independent people. They will want to do all of the field work, all of the time. But, irrespective of the machinery available, one man can only do so much.

Given this limitation and the fact that time is pressing to get this year’s harvest completed, a quick call to a local contractor could well be an appropriate management decision in many cases.

As the old saying goes, ‘many hands make light work’.

A serious accident can take place in the blink of an eye. As the Health and Safety Authority confirms, all of these incidents can be avoided if the required preparation is put in place prior to all field work taking place.

But above all else, I would urge farmers and contractors to be on the particular look-out for young children over the coming days.

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