Ahead of this year’s silage season, farmers have been urged to roll their silage ground as soon as conditions allow to minimise stoppages due to machine breakdowns.
The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) said it was concerned that machine parts availability may be a problem due to the outbreak of COVID-19. FCI national chair Richard White said it was important that farms and contractors worked together to minimise machine risk.
Contractors have been declared as an essential service and will be allowed to continue working during the pandemic. The FCI, along with the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA), have drawn up a protocol for farms where contractors are working to minimise any transmission risk.
“Given the scale of work on farms at the moment, there’s a duty on everybody to co-operate and observe the guidelines. The safety and welfare of all persons working on a farm has to be paramount,” IFA president Tim Cullinan said.
As the health and welfare of our machine operators and our customers is our priority, we are requesting that all work instructions are now given over the phone or by email
White said contractors would play their part in ensuring that crops are planted, fertiliser and slurry is spread in a timely way during the current coronavirus outbreak.
“As the health and welfare of our machine operators and our customers is our priority, we are requesting that all work instructions are now given over the phone or by email, using texting and smartphone technology to ensure that field work is carried out efficiently while adhering to the HSE personal safety guidelines,” he added.
The FCI asks that contractors inform their teams about the following points: Disinfect the interior tractor cab and cab door handles at the start and at the end of each day with a disinfectant spray.Adhere to social distancing and do not allow others into the tractor cabin with you.Do not allow children into the tractor cab with you.Bring enough food and drinks with you for a day’s work, and take two food breaks. Provide a box of disposable plastic gloves in each tractor cab for your operators.Use disposable gloves to open and close farm gates where possible. Wear overalls and change them for a fresh set each day or use disposable overalls and dispose each day.No hand contact, no shaking hands, it is possible to give the instructions over the phone. Maintain two metre distance and cough into your elbow.
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