Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture with responsibility for farm safety Martin Heydon has urged farmers to take time to ensure a safe silage harvest.

“Silage harvesting is already under way in earnest in many parts of the country. It is an exciting time on farms that signals the start of summer, but it can also be an extremely dangerous time too,” he said.

“Over half of all fatal incidents on farms involve vehicles or machinery, while longer working days during the summer months can increase the risk of incidents due to fatigue.

"We know where the risks are when it comes to silage harvesting. It is important to plan ahead, identify those risks and take action and mitigate them to ensure a safe harvest for everyone,” Minister Heydon added.

Six recommended steps

The following six steps are recommended by Minister Heydon to help ensure a safer silage harvest:

  • A safe system of work should be in place and properly communicated to all.
  • All machinery should be in a good state of repair, fully serviced and with all protective guards in place.
  • Everyone involved should be properly trained and know their role.
  • The routes that the machinery will be taking should be known and there should be good visibility at the farm entrance - and all field entrances that are being used.
  • Warning signs should be erected near entrances to fields and farmyards.
  • Silage pits should be checked to see if they are in good repair and not overfilled.
  • He concluded by emphasising that “it is vital to keep vulnerable people, especially children safe and away from the silage harvest".