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UK Farmers Urged to Review Health & Safety Measures

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) have together urged farmers to review their safety measures and take extra care following an inquiry into the death of Lauder farmer, Jim Sharp.

Mr Sharp, who was 66, was tragically killed earlier this year in an accident at Newbigging Walls Farm, after he became entangled with a sweep auger in a grain silo.

HSE and NFUS released the warning last week after the conclusion of Mr Sharp's fatal accident inquiry. Farmers have been strongly reminded to always use the safe stop procedure when working with any type of agricultural machinery.

The safe stop procedure involves firstly putting the handbrake on; secondly, making sure the controls are in neutral (equipment made safe); thirdly, stopping the engine (or turn off the power); and finally, removing the key (or lock-off the power supply). This simple procedure is essential to remember at all times, but especially while carrying out maintenance or repairs HSE and NFUS warned, as working with removed guards or in closer proximity to the moving parts is particularly hazardous.

HSE and NFUS also recommended using a padlock to ensure the power is not accidentally turned on, and removing the ignition key and keeping the key with you at all times until the work is complete, is also the safest practice.

Many accidents have happened as a result of farmers entering grain silos where the sweep auger was moving slowly, in the false belief it was safe. The message from HSE and NFUS is clear - never enter grain silos with the auger running, and always use the safe stop procedure. Becoming entangled by clothing or a shoelace is simply not worth the risk.

Furthermore, HSE and NFUS also warned against possible drowning in grain silos which can occur when a farmer sinks into the grain as the silo empties. It is also possible to suffocate, due to the lack of oxygen in the silo, especially when grain is damp or contaminated, or if the silo is sealed.

HSE inspector Hazel Dobb said: "The tragic death of Mr Sharp has once again brought home the dangers involved in the farming industry, particularly when working with agricultural machinery. We are working closely with the industry and NFU Scotland to highlight the dangers and would urge all those involved in the industry to take care and remember the safe stop procedure when working with machinery."

Falls from height; livestock accidents; workplace transport and machinery incidents account for around 70 per cent of fatal injuries in Scotland, and it is these four areas which the newly formed Farm Safety Partnership for Scotland will focus on improving.

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For specialist personal injury claims advice in Scotland, including claims for farming accidents and injuries, contact us today. You can click here to make an online enquiry or call us on 0131 516 9180.

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