The Ulster Farmers’ Union has today (Friday, June 2) urged farmers in Northern Ireland to “work safely” and make their health a priority during the current busy silage season.

The UFU said that the current dry, sunny weather is set to continue and farmers across Northern Ireland are busy mowing, cutting and drawing silage.

“Silage season can create time pressures,” the UFU warned as it urged farmers to focus on safety at all times.

It highlighted figures from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) that farm equipment is involved in more than one in three farm-related deaths.

The UFU said that machines are also involved in many accidents which result in life-changing injuries such as the loss of a limb.

“Modern tractors, telehandlers and other equipment have given farmers the ability to work more quickly and efficiently.

“But this machinery brings new dangers,” the union highlighted.

It has advised farmers to carry out an equipment safety checklist in June which includes:

  • Keeping all guards in place on tractors and equipment.
  • Ensure PTO shafts are fully guarded (O-guard, U-guard and shaft) and the safety chain is attached.
  • Make sure that all mirrors and cameras (if fitted) are clean and fully functional on tractors and telescopic handlers.
  • Keep all windows clean and make sure you check all round before carrying out any manoeuvre.
  • Ensure you have good all-round visibility on tractors and telehandlers.
  • When pulling heavy machinery equipped with hydraulic brakes, make sure the brakes are connected to the tractor and work properly.
  • Keep the brakes on all your machines properly maintained, especially the parking brakes.
  • Operate tractors with enclosed safety cabs or roll bars.
  • Take care when mounting or dismounting tractors or telehandlers.
  • Only start your tractor from the driver’s seat and make sure that your tractor’s starter system works properly.
  • Check all hitches and linkages to ensure they are not worn or damaged.
  • Make sure equipment is stopped fully before clearing blockages, which need to be cleared by hand.

The UFU has also urged farmers never to attempt to repair machinery if they do not have the correct tools and equipment and are not competent to do so or run a tractor down a slope to start it.