Farm Safety – Machinery Guarding and Confined Spaces

Most tractors, and agricultural machinery on a farm will use a wide variety of different implements and attachments to do the different types of work that the farm operates on.

Tractors will continually change implements, often several times during a day, sometimes more if the weather conditions changed dramatically. Changing of these implements is normally done with a mix of mechanical and human interaction.

Health and safety regulations will normally include some standard provisions for machinery guarding which covers all the moving parts of the tractor, and is designed to prevent the operative being hurt by any abnormal, discharge from the tractor itself or from the implements or attachments it is using.

The regulations normally stipulate that all types of farming and farming equipment must be provided with some type of power transmission guarding. Quite often this guarding is referred to as nip points. These nip points are essentially pinch points exist on gears, belts and pulleys.

Great care must also be taken to prevent any accident that emanates from electrical power devices that can be used during power transmission. A tractor will involve a significant amount of electrical output both in terms of the running of the tractor, and the power that it transfers to the very implemented using.

Whilst these instruments are being changed, there is always a risk of discharge improper use of equipment that carries a risk to the operative.

It is crucially important for the safety of the operative, and of the tractor itself, that all machinery guarding is properly installed, regularly checked, and always use whenever the tractor or a piece of agricultural machinery being used.

Most statutes regarding health and safety legislation will specify that employees need to be indicated in the proper use of all machinery used on the farm, and will include machinery guarding in the sense.

It is really important that the employer takes it seriously and provides both formal education and supervision of all operatives in this regard. This can be especially true with any new tractors that are purchased, or any adaptation of machinery already existing on the farm.

The nature of farm work is that a significant amount of how the job is learnt is done through day-to-day experience, as opposed to formal training which exists in other industries.

There is a place however for some degree of formal training, either on the machine itself or in a more formal setting This applies specifically to all types of farm safety, but especially to safety regarding tractors and other types of agricultural machinery

Farms are often thought of as open fields with tractors going up and down them, in alternating rows. In addition to this, tractors and other types of agricultural machinery are often used in very confined spaces such as silos, manure pits, grain bins etc.

These confined spaces present additional hazards in terms of safety, both in terms of how the tractor or machinery is used, as well as the type of work that the enclosed space entails. The employer has a specific duty of the most health and safety regulations to make sure that no one should be exposed to any type of injury, risk of fatality or other type of serious injury because of their environment.

This means the employer needs to carry out a periodic risk assessment of any confined space that maybe in regular usage, identify the hazards involved, and make sure adequate provision is made to minimise or reduce any undue risk or danger.

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