The winter harvest season is expected to yield a grain haul in excess of 43 million tonnes this year, prompting calls from a national body for farmers to take extra care when storing produce.
According to the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) the use of on-farm crop storage can help to reduce the risks of pest infestation and improve product prices.
By keeping fresh stock in a hygienic environment with on-site aeration and cooling, farmers are able to take advantage of upward movements in soft commodities, selling their goods when the market conditions are optimal.
However, the special conditions required to store grain on agricultural property can carry with them a number of added risks.
WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division general manager John Watson said that farmers who make use of “flat bed storage and bunkers with tarps” instead of silos to keep their product safe need to be aware of the dangers when handling such large quantities for extended periods.
Watson asserted: “When tarping grain in a bunker and climbing on top of the pile, take caution to avoid becoming engulfed in the grain as this can lead to suffocation.
The safety advocate also reminded farmers to be wary of windy conditions – reminding people of the incident last year in which a sudden gust ripped up a tarpaulin and threw a worker into the air “with fatal consequences”.
Watson suggested a number of measures should be put in place by farm managers to reduce the risks associated with handling bulk volumes of grain.
“Not working in isolation, having a rescue plan if someone becomes trapped and only tarping in safe weather conditions are vital for this type of work,” said Watson.
The increased stress brought on at busy times of the year could also contribute to the chance of an accident occurring, with long hours and fatigue having the potential to cause lapses in concentration.
In a working environment that involves heavy machinery, hazardous chemicals, high platforms and other dangerous elements, Watson said that pre-emptive safety measures were “strongly recommended”.
Promoting intelligent solutions to manage stress could help to reduce the chance of a workplace accident that damages property and harms staff members.
Personal injury lawyers are able to give farm workers access to the legal advice they need to gain payments that can help them to receive treatments in the event of a harvest-related incident.
The specialist compensation law firms can also deliver victims with the assurance of a financial resolution with the deployment of a no win no fee policy.