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Five ways to keep your farm safe and protected this summer

Agriculture can be a risky business – and this is amplified during harvest season.



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#Insurance: Five ways to keep your farm safe and protected this summer

Charles Foster, head of Lycetts insurance brokers’ Rural Division, outlines five ways to ensure your farm is safe and protected this summer.

 

 


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1. Injury

1. Injury

Casual labourers are often hired during harvest time and you are required by law to arrange Employers’ Liability insurance for them.

 

Workers are exposed to a number of health and safety risks, particularly when it comes to machinery, so make sure:

 

  • All guards are in place, correctly fitted and secure before work begins and those using the machinery are properly trained in its use and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Drivers should always do a ‘safe stop’ - the handbrake on, controls in neutral and engine stopped.
  • Employees are adequately protected from dust.
  • Employers must comply with The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, LOLER and PUWER regulations and carry out regular maintenance checks on machinery - including brakes, hydraulic hoses and power take-off guards.

2. Theft

2. Theft

Thieves are known to strike at the height of harvest time, targeting expensive farming machinery.

 

Wherever possible, store machinery in secure sheds overnight and use security cameras and light sensors.

 

If machinery needs to be left overnight in the field, ensure it is hidden from view and keys are removed. Fuel bowsers should be fitted with wheel clamps or hitch locks.

 

Ask workers to be extra vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour.

 

It is important to ensure that all machinery, hired and owned, has the appropriate insurance cover.

3. Combine harvesters

3. Combine harvesters

Combine harvesters need to be well maintained and cleared of dried debris ahead of the harvest period.

 

Chaff and dust can accumulate in combines or balers and ignite when they are started up for the first time or overheat during extended use.

4. Bale stacking

4. Bale stacking

The contents of farm buildings in summer are liable to dry out quickly and catch fire more easily.

 

Check there are no naked bulbs hanging from the ceiling and be wary of where any glass or mirrors are situated.

 

It is essential that you review the value of your cereal crops as they are being put into store. Prices can fluctuate dramatically so it is imperative that the sum insured is adequate.

 

Find out if there is a stack limit in your policy defined by value rather than volume. If, for example, a stack with £60,000 worth of hay catches fire, there’s a strong chance that it will have exceeded the limit.

 

The best way to comply with the terms of the policy is to split your stacks and keep them in different locations.

 

Ensure that stacks are stable and prevent anybody from approaching on foot while mechanical loading equipment is in use.

5. Road safety

5. Road safety

Accidents involving farm machinery soar during the harvest season, as everyday traffic struggles to cope with the additional farm machinery on the road.

 

The Highway Code stipulates that slow-moving vehicles should safely pull in when a ‘large queue’ builds up behind them - flouters face hefty fines and points for inconsiderate driving.

 

Make sure you have the correct operating licences, that weight and wide restrictions are complied with, drivers meet the minimum age criteria and speed limits are adhered to.

 

Standard driving licences are not valid for tracked vehicles used on the highway.

 

It is an offence if mud creates a danger or inconvenience to road users and all efforts must be made to remove it.

 

Appropriate signage, given maximum visibility, should be used to warn road users of machinery turning and of potentially hazardous driving conditions.

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