HSE inspectors set to be out in force during potato harvest

HSE inspectors will be visiting farms across the country during the potato harvest season.

HSE inspectors will be visiting farms across the country during the potato harvest season. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Safety inspectors will be out in force over the coming months visiting farms involved in potato harvesting.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said its latest drive would involve its inspectors dropping in on farms across the country that grow, pick and process the crop to ensure risks during the harvesting season are being controlled and measures are in place to protect farmers and their workers.

The inspections announcement comes against a grim backdrop of 30 deaths on farms in Britain over the last 12 months.

Incidents during potato harvesting season remain a common cause of serious and fatal injury and recurring causes include entanglement with dangerous parts of machines, being struck or run over by vehicles and falls from height.

The HSE is reminding farmers who grow potatoes of the importance of managing risks to worker and is also highlighting a range of free resources available on its website which offers guidance and advice for what can be a hectic time for workers.

Among the areas inspectors will be focusing on during their inspections are ensuring that haulm and clod rollers are properly guarded, that PTO (power take off) guards are in good condition and that work equipment is adequately maintained.

They will be checking whether harvester operators have been trained and that all drivers follow Safe Stop procedures.

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Other areas of focus on the farm will be looking at whether moving vehicles are segregated from pedestrians, and how risks or falls from trailers and in potato stores are managed.

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.”

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