Silage safety should be the top priority on every farm to avoid unnecessary injuries and fatalities. Here are some tips for staying safe around silage.
Preventable deaths are some of the most tragic circumstances that families will ever have to endure, and when it comes to silage it makes sense to make safety a top priority. The long working days and added pressure of silage season create extra pressure for farmers, adding to the already hazardous nature of the job.
Four silage hazards to be aware of:
Children should never operate heavy machinery or ride in the cab of machines like tractors or harvesters involved in making silage. Make sure that children are kept away from fields or pastures where silage is being made.
All heavy machinery must be properly maintained and in good condition. They should only be operated by people with the appropriate training and have all the relevant safety features included. Carrying passengers should be avoided.
Silos should never be overfilled, and entering the silo once covers are in place is forbidden due to toxic gases which can kill. Open silage must be sloped off at a safe angle, and silos with walls should never be filled above the top of the wall.
Anyone operating equipment must take care to avoid overhead power lines, and contractors must be informed of the location of electrical infrastructure. Self-propelled harvesters need a lot of head room, as do large trailers when tipped.
Four safety tips for silage pit:
- Maintain a safe distance
The area around the feed out face is hazardous, so it is important that people and equipment are kept at a safe distance. As a general rule, nothing should be positioned closer to the face than three times its height – visitors and bystanders should also be aware of this rule.
- Take care when filling
Ideally, people should never be working around the silage face on their own, because there have been many recorded fatalities as the result of fallen silage. Never fill a bunker higher than your unloading equipment can safely reach, and always use caution when covering bunkers and operating equipment.
- Feed out in the correct order
There are a number of things that should never be done when feeding out silage. You should never dig buckets into the bottom of the silage pit, because that creates hazardous overhangs. It’s also important to never drive the unloader parallel to and in close proximity to the feed out face of an over-filled pile.
- Beware of silage gases
Silage pits can release hazardous gases, and as such they should always be approached with caution. If orange or brown gas is visible, allow it to fully dissipate before approaching the silage face because they are highly toxic. More dangerous is carbon dioxide, because it is colourless and can cause asphyxiation.
Silage season doesn’t have to be dangerous, and there are a number of protocols that can be implemented to avoid injuries or fatalities – a few simple safety rules can make all the difference.