FBD Insurance: Gear up for a safe winter

With the winter housing period fast approaching, it’s time to ensure your farm is winter ready.

Keeping the farm tidy and free from clutter makes a huge difference in terms of safety. By making sure that the yard is tidy, you are ultimately reducing the likelihood of slips, trips and falls.

Here, we take a look at some of the areas that need to be considered to ensure your safety on the farm.

Keeping the yard tidy

Plastic wrap and netting really starts to build up around the yard when feeding baled silage. This can pose a serious safety risk, especially in wet and frosty weather conditions.

When recycling plastic, pay attention to proper storage because you pay by weight. Having plastic clean and dry reduces weight and keeps the cost of recycling lower.

Plastic should be left on a clean concrete base, separate from bale netting, in cases where it’s not possible to store indoors. Some farmers have designed specific units for storing plastic that helps create easily loaded bales of plastic.

Using a yard scrapper is a great way to remove the build-up of muck and dirt that can cause the surface to become treacherous underfoot. The level of activity on the farm will determine the frequency upon which the yard will need to be scrapped.

Lighting

Adequate lighting is invaluable, especially during the winter months when most activities are carried out during the dark evenings. You should only replace lights around the farm if you have a safe way of doing so.

If not, it’s always best to call in a certified electrician who has the right safety equipment to carry out the work. It may cost a little more, but it is definitely cheaper in the long run to avoid a serious injury from occurring.

When checking lights, make sure that all the fittings are at least splash-proof, IP44 and the protection level for fittings in milking parlours and dairies should be IP45.

Check that all lights are working and that they provide adequate light.

Vermon

Now is the right time to make sure that you have an effective rodent control programme in place on the farm. This is crucial in preventing disease spreading from surfaces and materials that farmers come in contact with.

This involves installing bait points around the farm. It is crucial to use proper containers that cannot be accessed by other animals or unintended targets. These bait points need to be carefully designed and considered so that it protects the farm against rodent infestation.

Manual Handling

Farming, by its very nature, is a physically demanding occupation, whether it be carrying meal bags, forking silage or rolling bales.

Always plan work activities in order to avoid and reduce manual handling activities. Ask yourself if it can be done differently in order to eliminate the manual handling, or to minimise the distance travelled, or the weight of the load, or the twisting movements required.

Where manual handling cannot be avoided, use manual handling aids where possible, get help if required and always use a safe lifting technique.

Electrical Safety

It’s always a good idea to check how electrically safe your farmyard is. Electrical fittings can become damaged due to wear and tear and some electrical fittings are not suitable for the outdoors.

Now is the time to have them repaired and replaced with fittings which have the correct IP ratings. Always get your electrical contractor involved.

Check that your RCD (Residual Current Device) will work when you need it. Simply press the test button and observe that the switch trips immediately. Afterwards, return it to the upright position.

Using portable electrical tools and equipment such as a power washer can cause electrocution. Always visually check that leads are not damaged. Never handle electrical equipment with wet hands or near water.

Farm Building Maintenance

Farm buildings and facilities should be inspected regularly, especially before and after extreme weather conditions. On foot of these inspections, maintenance and repair work should be carried out as appropriate.

Remember, building maintenance work can be very dangerous, especially work at height; it is essential that all work at height is properly planned, organised, supervised and carried out in a safe manner.

Appropriate equipment for work at height should be carefully selected. Scaffolding and Mobile Elevated Work Platforms should be used as required. Complex and extensive work should be left to the specialist contractors.

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