Safety advice for your farm machinery maintenance this spring

As spring approaches and lambing gets into full flow, farmers will be starting spring field-work with many facing more challenging circumstances brought about by recent floods or heavy rainfall.

Below we have included some useful information to remember when undertaking any vehicular repairs/maintenance.

Vehicle repair

During vehicle repair:

  • make sure brakes are applied and wheels chocked
  • always prop raised bodies. Do not rely on hydraulic systems for support
  • start and run engines with brakes on and in neutral gear
  • never work under vehicles supported on jacks alone – always use axle stands
  • beware of the explosion risk when draining and repairing fuel tanks
  • avoid burns from battery short circuits by disconnecting the battery before starting work

Wheel changing

Serious accidents, including fatalities, have been caused by unsafe practices during wheel/tyre changing and when inflating tyres. When using jacks to lift or support:

  • use the correct jack for the job, capable of supporting the load imposed on it
  • use the correct jacking point, as identified on the machine or in the operator’s manual
  • position axle stands to give additional support
  • chock the other wheels to prevent movement
  • carry out the work on firm, level ground

Tyre/wheel repair and replacement should only be tackled by competent staff. Take extra care with split-rim wheels as these present additional hazards. Don’t use ‘unrestricted’ airlines (without a gauge or pressure control device) or valve connectors that require the operator to hold them in place when inflating tyres.

Never underestimate the risks - whether the job is part of routine maintenance, fitting dual wheels or when dealing with a flat tyre.

This article was compiled with information from the HSE Agriculture e-Bulletin Issue 31.

For more information on Agricultural Health and Safety in the work place from the HSE, click here.