The public body has taken the opportunity to remind farmers that working with silage is a potentially dangerous time, particularly as high-powered machinery is being operated at speed.

It has also issued a number of tips to help farmers keep safe during the season in the areas of both silo safety and electricity. Take a look at some of them below.

Silo safety

  • Silos must never be overfilled as this greatly increases the chance of a tractor or loading shovel overturning when filling or rolling a silo.
  • No-one should go underneath a silage cover once it has been put in place. The fermenting grass uses up the oxygen in the air under the cover very quickly. Anyone going under the cover risks rapid death due to asphyxiation.
  • On open silos, with earth embankments, the sides and ends of the silage should be sloped off at a safe angle (less than 45 degrees). On other silos where machines and their drivers can drop 600mm (2 feet) or more, strong front end barriers and guide rails are required.
  • Silos with walls should never be filled above the top of the wall. If overfilled the guard rail will no longer be effective and will increase the risk of a machine overturning.
  • Excessive filling will overload walls and increase the risk to the operators of machinery.
  • Electricity

  • Be particularly careful when working near overhead power lines.
  • If you use a contractor for silage making, inform them of the location of any overhead lines which you feel may impact on large machinery.
  • Remember, self-propelled forage harvesters need a lot of headroom, as do large trailers when tipped in the yard.
  • If in doubt about the height of overhead power lines and suitable clearance distances consult with one of the country's main electricity providers
  • The HSENI is currently conducting an ongoing Farm Safety Partnership campaign with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), NFU Mutual (NFUM), the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) and the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA). The campaign focuses on the four main causes of death and injury on Irish farms – slurry, animals, falls and equipment (SAFE).