HSE issues warning to potato growers

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

HSE inspectors will be visiting farms across the country that grow, pick and process potatoes over 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.

Those working in the industry are reminded of the range of free resources available on the HSE website which offers guidance and advice for what can be a hectic time for workers.

The initiative announcement comes after the latest HSE statistics show that there have been 30 deaths on farms in Great 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.

Throughout the inspection initiative, inspectors will be checking:

  • Haulm and clod rollers are properly guarded;
  • PTO guards are in good condition;
  • Harvester operators have been trained;
  • All drivers follow Safe Stop;
  • Work equipment is adequately maintained;
  • Moving vehicles are segregated from pedestrians; and
  • 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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About The Author

Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.