Good grips, high-vis jackets and charged phones ‘essential’ to post-storm farm repairs

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is urging farmers to take necessary precautions when returning to work on the farm after Storm Emma.

With work activity in the agriculture sector severely hampered by snow and ice, the HSA has stated that personal safety is of paramount importance as storm repair work and driving conditions remain “hazardous” in many areas.

The authority is particularly concerned about those involved in storm repair, construction, farming and transportation.

Working at heights

After previous extreme weather events there were a number of workplace fatalities that occurred due to falls from height.

The HSA warns that any work at height – such as repair of overhead lines or the roofs of farm buildings – should be undertaken with extreme caution in mind.

It is advised that repair of roofs should only be done after snow and ice has been cleared and a risk assessment has been carried out.

All work at height must be properly planned and organised, the correct equipment should be used, and anyone working at height must be competent to do so.

Agriculture

Farmers are advised to tick all the below boxes before getting involved in repair work at farm level:

  • Wear footwear with good grips;
  • Wear a high-visibility jacket;
  • Tell someone their estimated time of return.

Also, the HSA said it is important that farmers carry a fully-charged mobile phone and a torch – even if just going out to feed animals in sheds or to carry out milking.

Pathways to machinery and sheds should be cleared at all times to reduce the risk of slips and falls.

Driving

The hazards of driving for work will also greatly increase in the snow and ice. Employers are urged to review risk management policies and to ensure that driving in adverse conditions is properly covered.

Anyone driving for work should:

  • Remove snow from their vehicle and ensure it is in roadworthy condition before driving;
  • Carry an emergency kit including a fully-charged mobile phone;
  • Have spare warm clothing.

Before beginning a journey it is advised that motorists should be aware of travel bulletins and advice from the Road Safety Authority and An Garda Siochana.

Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority, said: “After such an extreme weather event many people will be facing conditions that they are not used to working in. With the likelihood of heavy rain and flooding to come I would call on all employers and employees to put personal safety first at all times.”