Union guidelines following Lauder farmer’s death

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Safety guidelines have been issued following the death of a well-known Borders sheep farmer earlier this year.

Jim Sharp, 66, of Newbigging Walls, near Lauder, died of multiple injuries after his shoe lace became entangled in the rotating blade of a sweep auger in a grain silo.

A fatal accident inquiry was held into his death at Selkirk Sheriff Court earlier this month.

The National Farmers Union of Scotland and the Health and Safety Executive have teamed up to remind farmers to use the safe stop procedure when working with any agricultural machinery.

The guidelines include putting the handbrake on, make sure the controls are in neutral and that the equipment is made safe, stop the engine or turn off the power, and lastly remove the key, or lock-off the power supply.

Farmers were reminded that this was especially important when carrying out maintenance or repairs on machinery.

The guidelines state:“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.”

They added that farmers should never enter a grain silo when the auger is running as several accidents have been caused when someone has become entangled in the sweep auger by a boot lace or clothing.

In addition, farmers were urged not to 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,” said the guidance.

“Also consider lack of oxygen in the silo, particularly if the grain could be damp/contaminated or if it is a sealed silo.”

Hand Safety Executive 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.”

NFU Scotland vice president Allan Bowie added: “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 to improve our sector’s health and safety record.”