Safety Reminder for Farmers and Staff this Winter

Farmers and their staff are being urged to take extra care this winter.  

The safety message follows the launch of a Scottish farm safety campaign in August backed by NFU Scotland, NFU Mutual, Scottish Government, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The Farm Safety Partnership for Scotland is focussed on four key areas: falls from height; livestock accidents; workplace transport; and machinery incidents. These four areas account for around 70 percent of the fatal injuries in Scotland and are featured in the partnership’s leaflet “Don’t leave it to FATE” (Falls, Animals, Transport and Equipment).

The safety reminder follows the conclusion last week of a fatal accident inquiry into the tragic death of well-known Lauder farmer, Jim Sharp.  A well-respected livestock farmer and member of NFU Scotland, Mr Sharp died after he became entangled with a sweep auger in a grain silo.

As a reminder, NFUS and HSE is urging all farmers to remember to use the safe stop procedure when working with any agricultural machinery:

-    Put the handbrake on.
-    Make sure the controls are in neutral (equipment made safe).
-    Stop the engine (or turn off the power).
-    Remove the key (or lock-off the power supply).

This is particularly important to remember when carrying out maintenance or repairs when working with safety guards removed or in closer proximity to the moving parts. In addition, farmers and staff should:

  • Use a padlock to prevent the power being turned on accidentally or remove the ignition key and keep the key with you until the work is complete.
  • Do not enter grain silos with the auger running – use the safe stop procedure. Sweep augers move slowly but have been responsible for several accidents – usually fatal – where the individual has become entangled by footwear or clothing.
  • Do not enter grain silos to clear blockages of any kind unless the power is isolated and there is no chance of bridging in the grain – drowning in grain silos can occur when a person sinks into the grain as the silo empties. Also consider lack of oxygen in the silo, particularly if the grain could be damp/contaminated or if it is a sealed silo.

NFU Scotland Vice President Allan Bowie said:

“Mr Sharp was a well-known, well-respected member of the Borders farming community and his death remains a tragic loss.  Farming remains one of the most hazardous industries to work in and the loss of an important industry figure like Mr Sharp simply strengthens the Union’s resolve and commitment to work with others and improve our sector’s health and safety record.

“Attendance at the recent round of health and safety farm events in Scotland has been hugely positive and I would urge all Scottish farmers and their staff to read the “Don’t leave it to FATE” leaflet produced by the Scottish Farm Safety Partnership for some simple tips on how to avoid injury on farms.”

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.”

Notes to Editors

•    The Scotland Farm Safety Partnership leaflet “Don’t leave it to FATE” is available at:

•    HSE publication “Safe Working with Agricultural Machinery” is available for free via the HSE website


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 186/14

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