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At use during very busy periods of the year, it’s critical that workers using or around harvesters are aware of the risks and safe ways of working with and around these big machines.

Video 9 - Harvester - Captioned
  • Harvesters are one of the larger pieces of equipment on grain farms.
    • Ensure you maintain three points of contact when entering or exiting the machine, as it has one of the higher cabs of all farm machinery.

  • If there is a fire during harvest due to the culmination of the weather conditions, machinery and a flammable crop, it's essential that you:
    • Have the appropriate plan in place for your team to follow.
    • Train your team to enact the plan and equip them to do so.
    • Include considerations such as who to contact, what equipment is available (and making sure it is serviced) and what steps should be followed.
    • Don’t overload the machine, which can increase the risk of fire due to increased pressure on the engine.

  • Ensure all guarding is in place and any safety decals are legible and followed.

  • When checking or maintaining the machine:
    • Ensure it has come to a complete stop and all moving parts have ceased.
    • Engage the park brake, remove the key and follow the lockout procedure prior to performing maintenance.
    • Have a spotter if required, such as when entering the grain tank.

  • When the harvester is full, the outload auger will be extended.
    • Prior to extending the auger, check for powerlines and the position of other machinery in the paddock.

  • Clean-down is an important harvest activity.
    • Ensure personal protective equipment is used for this activity including eye protection, dust masks and gloves.

  • Above all, read the operator's manual and ensure you provide adequate training and induction for your team.
    • The operator's manual provides information to ensure the machine is maintained and operated safely.
    • An inhouse induction and safe work procedure are great ways to present this information to your team.
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Grain Storage

Grain storage can be a danger area. It's an area that's often accessed during busy times, when staff are fatigued and deadlines are tight. Silos pose a number of risks that need to be managed to ensure safe handling of grain.

Video 11 - Grain storage safety - Captioned
  • Working at heights is a major risk around grain storage.
    • Ensure silos are fitted with an Australian standard ladder and include safety cages where needed to arrest falls.
    • Restrict access to ladders when they are not in use.
    • A fall arrest harness should be used when climbing ladders to access the top of silos.

  • Entering silos is relatively common and can be very dangerous.
    • These areas often constitute a confined space and precautions need to be made to operate safely around them.
    • Operators may need to be trained to enter.
    • There should be an emergency plan, a trained spotter and an entry permit. Details about these can be found in Safe Work Australia's Code of Practice: Confined Spaces manual.

  • Fumigation with phosphine can be a very dangerous activity around grain storage. Ensure that the:
    • Team member who is carrying out this activity is competent to do so.
    • Correct PPE is used in the process.
    • Label recommendations are carefully adhered to.

  • Dust inhalation is a risk around grain storage facilities.
    • Ensure appropriate dusk masks are available and used by your team.
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Most grain growers know a horror story about an auger. They are a cause of many serious incidents on farm, many of which could have been prevented. Here are some tips to manage auger safety on your farm.

Video 12 - Augers - Captioned
  • Appropriately guarding all moving parts on an auger is essential.
    • Guards are fitted at the time of manufacture but are sometimes removed for efficacy or maintenance and not replaced.
    • Conduct an audit of your equipment and repair or replace all guards to minimise the risk of losing a digit, limb or even a life!
    • If you have an older piece of equipment that was purchased with a guard removed, it is your obligation to retrofit a guard to that piece of equipment.

  • Augers are quite clunky pieces of equipment that can be tricky to move around the farm.
    • Ensure the auger is empty before it's move.
    • Move the auger on even ground.
    • Assess the surrounding area to avoid collision with other equipment, infrastructure and powerlines.

  • Augers are typically quite noisy.
    • Hearing protection is usually appropriate PPE.
    • Ensure anyone operating the auger has no loose clothing or hair that could cause entanglement.
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