Consider your Safety when Carrying out Maintenance


Scottish agriculture seeks to improve its poor safety record

As the nights start to draw in, farmers and crofters across the country are being encouraged to carry out essential maintenance safely.

With cereal harvest now behind us, we are now entering into a quieter time of the year when many tend to carry out essential maintenance.

The advice comes following a renewed plea from Farm Safety Partnership Scotland (FSPS) in September to encourage those working within the industry to make safety a priority.

FSPS, which consists of key industry stakeholders, will be focussing on different types of farming activities each quarter to deliver key messages and encourage those working and living on Scotland’s farms and crofts to take action.

Scotland’s farm safety record continues to be poor. Last year alone there were 33 deaths in the agricultural industry in Great Britain, with five in Scotland. The most common causes of death and injury in the agricultural industry continues to involve falls, transport, animals and equipment.  The deaths in Scotland last year included a 49-year-old farm worker who was crushed beneath a tractor trailer as he carried out repairs. The trailer collapsed and fell onto him and he died from crush injuries. More recently a father-of-three died after becoming trapped in a baler.

The message for anyone carrying out maintenance is to practice the ‘safe stop’ procedure: engage handbrake, controls in neutral, switch off engine (or turn off power) and remove key (or lock-off power supply). This practice should be carried out before leaving the driver’s seat/operating position; when anyone approaches; before anyone carries out maintenance, adjustments or deals with a blockage.

Scott Walker, NFU Scotland Chief Executive, and Chairman of the Farm Safety Partnership Scotland, commented: “Far too often we hear about people being injured or killed on farms. Whilst they are fantastic places to live and work they can also be dangerous places. It is not just about your safety, but about the safety of those who work, live or visit your farm or croft.  Whilst many may think we are teaching them how to suck eggs, farming continues to be the most dangerous occupation in Great Britain and we must stop this being the case.

 “We need people to start making a conscious decision about their safety and that of those working and living on your farm or croft.

“There are standard measures we would encourage anyone to make when carrying out maintenance with machines, principally the ‘safe stop’ procedure. In addition to this, you should ensure workers are properly trained, safe working practices are devised and executed and all movement has stopped before removing any guards.
“There is a host of advice for safe working practices available on the Health and Safety Executive’s website, and I would ask everyone to take five minutes to read this guidance as it may stop and make you think about what you’re doing and help to prevent injury or death.”

Robert Hamilton, of Robert Hamilton Agricultural Contractors in Strathaven, Lanarkshire, knows all too well how careful you need to be when doing maintenance after losing his hand and the impact it can have on your family following an accident.
Robert, who is married with two young children, said: “The rear discharge spreader had received maintenance and after checking the running of the machine in the afternoon, I noticed a grease pipe on auto lube was leaking. The floor chain was running very slowly within the rear discharge spreader on a Terra-gator.

“I wiped grease off the pipe next to the floor slat. About 10 minutes later I did exactly the same thing again. However, this time my hand got trapped in the floor slat and the front roller. I knew that the only way I could survive this was for my hand to come off between the forearm and wrist. It felt like slow motion.”

As a result of the accident Robert and his employees are more aware of health and safety. He commented: “I don’t feel I was ignorant to health and safety. At the time the machine was having maintenance done and the guard was not on. I have done this kind of work for years, for as long as I can remember, from early teens. I was lucky as it could have been a lot worse.”

Notes to Editors

  • To read further advice about safe working practices when carry out maintenance visit:
  • A photograph of Robert Hamilton is available by emailing
  • For more information about death rates in Scottish and UK agriculture, visit:
  • Farm Safety Partnership Scotland consists of NFU Scotland, Scottish Government, Health and Safety Executive Scotland, NFU Mutual Insurance, The Scottish Farmer, Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, Farm Advisory Scotland and SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College.
  • If posting on social media about this news release please use the hashtag #YourSafetyYourChoice.


Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Author: Ruth McClean

Date Published:

News Article No.: 140/18

< Article List


Report Abusive Comment

Comment Content:

Why it offends me (optional):

Have Your Say

No-one has commented on this article yet. Be the first to have your say...

New Comment


Total Pages:
Total Results:
Page Start:
Page Result #:

About The Author

Ruth McClean

Having worked in the communications and journalism industry for the last 11 years, NFU Scotland’s Communications Manager Ruth McClean understands the needs of journalists and has extensive knowledge of the wider agricultural industry. After growing up in Argyll and Bute and working in the area as a reporter for local newspapers for eight years, Ruth joined NFU Scotland in 2013 in her current role. She is also Editor of the Union’s membership magazine the Scottish Farming Leader.

Quick Contact

Which Region do you live in?  
Are you a member of NFU Scotland?  

This form collects and sends the information supplied to NFU Scotland. You can read our privacy policy for full details on how we protect and manage your data.
  I consent to having NFU Scotland collect the above details.


NFU Scotland
Head Office
Rural Centre - West Mains
Ingliston, Midlothian
EH28 8LT

Tel: 0131 472 4000

NFU Mutual Logo

Get the App

NFUS App QR Code

©NFU Scotland • All Rights Reserved • Web design by Big Red DigitalLog in


Contact Us




No Robots:

This form collects and sends the information supplied to NFU Scotland. You can read our privacy policy for full details on how we protect and manage your data.
  I consent to having NFU Scotland collect the above details.