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Potato growers to be targeted by Health and Safety Executive inspections

PUBLISHED: 14:42 05 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:42 05 September 2017

Norfolk-grown potatoes. Picture: Ian Burt

Norfolk-grown potatoes. Picture: Ian Burt

East Anglia’s potato growers have been urged to step up their accident prevention measures this harvest season – and to expect visits from safety inspectors.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is reminding producers of the importance of managing risks to workers during the potato harvest as it launches its latest inspection initiative.

Inspectors will be making unannounced visits to farms that grow, pick and process potatoes during the next few months to ensure risks during the harvesting season are being controlled and measures are in place to protect farmers and their workers.

The announcement follows the release of HSE statistics showing there have been 30 deaths on British farms in the last 12 months, with recurring causes of serious injuries during the potato harvesting season including entanglement with dangerous parts of machines, being struck or run over by vehicles and falls from height.

HSE’s head of agriculture Rick Brunt said: “The risks during potato harvesting are well-known but the precautions are straightforward. Farmers and their employees need to work together to make sure equipment is safe and work is well-planned. This inspection initiative is about ensuring those participating in any harvesting activity remain safe and go home from their work healthy.

“HSE is calling on anyone involved with the potato harvesting season to do what they can to reduce the likelihood of incidents on their farms. By following guidance freely-available on the HSE website, farmers will be ensuring that risks are adequately controlled.”

Throughout the initiative, HSE inspectors will be checking:

• Haulm and clod rollers are properly guarded.

• PTO (power take-off) guards are in good condition.

• Harvester operators have been trained.

• All drivers follow Safe Stop machinery guidelines.

• Work equipment is adequately maintained.

• Moving vehicles are segregated from pedestrians.

• Risks or falls from trailers and in potato stores are managed.

‘SAFE STOP’ PROCEDURES:

The Farm Safety Partnership launched the Safe Stop campaign in 2013, to draw attention to the dangers of farm vehicles and machinery.

In the last decade, nearly 40 farm machinery operators have been killed when they were run over by their own vehicle after leaving the cab without applying a working handbrake.

Another 30 people were killed by becoming entangled in machinery and many more were seriously injured. The Farm Safety Partnership says 80pc of these occurred when workers were carrying out adjustments while the machinery was left running.

The campaign highlights the importance of the following basic principles:

• Engage handbrake.

• Put controls in neutral.

• Switch off engine.

• Remove key.

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