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Harvesting Safety

Harvesting operations are a high profile item when it comes to safety as you are dealing with large, heavy trees and moving machinery in an environment that can be dusty, noisy and/or wet and slippery.

The first thing to do before entering a harvest site is to read the signage at the entrance to the farm or site. The signage has the following important information:
  1. Danger – Harvesting or Mechanical Activity. The red/black danger sign means that, if you proceed past this point, you are entering a site that is dangerous, and potentially fatal in nature.
  2. Personal protective equipment (PPE) required on site. As a minimum this should be a hi-vis vest, a hard hat and steel-cap boots. Hearing protection is required where noise levels exceed 80dB,
  3. Communication means. The sign should list a relevant UHF radio channel. At this point you should attempt to make contact with the crew to make your presence and location known. This is very important as you may encounter loaded trucks on the same roads you plan to drive on.
Wherever possible you should accompany an experienced supervisor onto an active harvest site. This is so that you are made aware of the relevant hazards on the site, and that you are aware of work zones and safe areas to view the operation from.
Hazards to be aware of and controls that are used:
  1. Moving machinery and restricted visibility – ensure use of PPE and maintain communication with the operator. Where possible make visual contact with the operator in addition to verbal.
  2. Falling trees and extracted trees – maintain a safe work zone of two times the tree height/length. Where falling is taking place alongside the haul route, the crew should close off that section of the road and restrict access to all traffic. The faller or machine operator doing the falling will then allow access in and out of that zone.
  3. Chipping operations – be extra vigilant with chipping operations as the safe work zone is not always clear. Always maintain at least an arc of 180⁰ in front of the chipper, and use ear protection for the noise. Where possible make visual contact in addition to verbal.
  4. Idle machinery poses a number of slip/trip hazards. Maintain a 3 point contact when entering or exiting any machinery, and don’t jump off the machines onto the uneven ground.
  5. Trucks entering/exiting have right of way and may not be able to stop as rapidly as a light vehicle when carrying a full load. Drive slowly and to the conditions, and always maintain active communication using the relevant UHF channel.