Health and Safety Tips: Harvest

The busy harvest period comes with many heavily loaded tractors and trailers on public highways. Below we cover two of the major risks associated with machinery in field and on the roads.

If you are employing staff to help harvest and haul potatoes this autumn, ensure that you make the following checks before the drivers start:

  • View and check their driving licences through the DVLA website:
  • Implement a daily check sheet for the vehicles and trailers, to prove that inspections are being made in the event of an accident
  • Get each employee (self-employed, temporary or otherwise) to sign a mobile phone policy to ensure that they are aware of their obligations, and that they must not use a phone whilst driving
  • Brief them on the routes to be used, both on public roads and in the yards, observing one-way systems if in place.

Potato harvest machinery can be brutally dangerous, especially if you must attend blockages and in-field breakdowns. Two simple ways of avoiding entanglement and entrapment injuries, which are a regular occurrence during harvest, are:

  • Practicing ‘Safe Stop’ when getting out of the tractor
    • Put tractor in neutral and engage the handbrake
    • Turn off the engine and remove the key
  • Implement a simple “lock off” procedure (many of our customers have a laminated A4 sheet which can be placed on the seat or the steering wheel stating: “DO NOT USE – Vehicle under Maintenance”. This acts as a further warning that the vehicle is being worked on and is not just parked up in the field.)

All of these tips are easily applied to all harvest types. It is important to note that as an employer you must ensure that machinery used is fit for purpose, and employees working for you are all suitably trained and qualified for the jobs they will be carrying out.

CXCS run ‘toolbox talks’ for UK farmers to train employees and spread awareness before such operations, if you would like more information about our farm safety service you can call 01981 590514 or email

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