Cyclists and pedestrians should ‘stay off the road’ when silage harvesting is underway - HSA senior advisor

In the five year period 2018 to 2022 there were a total of 34 vehicle related fatalities on Irish farms.

Niall Hurson

Cyclists and pedestrians should “stay off the road” when silage harvesting is underway, a senior inspector with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has advised.*

HSA Senior Agriculture Inspector, Pat Griffin told the Farming Independent that rural dwellers have to be aware of risks as the country heads into another busy silage season.

“If there’s silage being cut in a certain area, just be more aware in the car and watch for corners that you might get caught out on,” he said.

“For people that are going to cycle or walk on the road while this is going on, I know it’s something that would probably be dismissive if I said it but, stay off the road for a day.

“The size of the harvesting machinery these days, they clear fields in an area probably in a day or two days at the very most. So stay off the road that’s being used at that time for silage harvesting. It doesn’t go on for long in any one particular area.

“If they do want to go out on the roads and walk the roads as this is going on, wear a high vis vest even in sunny conditions.”

Mr Griffin also recommends that farmers and contractors should ensure that more vulnerable people are restricted from accessing busy areas during the silage season.

“Nobody that’s not involved in the harvesting should be in the yard, they should be just kept away,” he said.

“These people are just working too fast to be relying on mirrors and cameras to be watching people.”

In the five year period 2018 to 2022 there were a total of 34 vehicle related fatalities on Irish farms. Of the 18 farm fatalities involving tractors 10 involved people aged 65 or over.

The HSA's top agriculture inspector advised elderly people to be aware of “their limitations.”

“Farmers when they’re getting on in years, particularly when they get past 65 or 70, their ability to hear a machine coming and ability to get out of the way quick enough is hugely diminished,” he continued.

“They should be aware of their limitations and make sure they are staying away from fast moving machinery.

“I don’t want to see any elderly farmers stop working completely, I think it would be very bad for their physical and mental health. They should understand their limitations and only work to their limitations.

“After working such a long life in farming it’s very sad to see them go that way.”

*This story was updated on May 6 after the HSA contacted the Farming Independent to say this is not the advice of the Health and Safety Authority.

In a statement, it said in relation to silage harvesting, the Health and Safety Authority’s focus is very firmly on the duty holder and workers. The Health and Safety Authority would like to make clear that the core duty of care rests with those supervising and undertaking the work, not cyclists and pedestrians.

Cyclists and pedestrians can and should use the roads during silage season. As it is a busy period on rural roads, all road users (drivers and cyclists or pedestrians) should take extra care during harvesting period and ensure they are visible when using the road.

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