Be safe this harvest 29 Oct 2014

With headers fired up across much of Australia’s grain belt, growers are being urged to be safe during this year’s winter crop harvest.

As the business end of the season, it’s the time when on-farm incidents are most likely to occur, and too often the causes are known hazards that can be prevented.

The Primary Industries Health and Safety Partnership (PIHSP) manages research aimed at increasing awareness and improving safety on-farm, and support the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health & Safety (University of Sydney).

The Centre’s program leader, John Temperley, said a major factor this time of year is fatigue, leading to growers and staff making errors that they would normally avoid.

“Some of the most common causes of serious injury include unguarded augers and PTO (Power Take-Off) drive shafts, while the increase in on-farm traffic means collisions are more likely between grain trucks, headers, utes and chaser bins,” he said.

There are 10 simple steps that can be taken to any avoid potential incidents. 

  • Check grain auger flights and elevator drive shafts, pulleys and drive belts are guarded

  • Ensure chaser bin PTO drive shafts, pulleys and drive belts are guarded, making sure header guards are also in place

  • Ensure field bins are in good condition, and not at risk of collapse from rusted bases and supports

  • Fit silos with fill level sight glasses and remote opening lids to reduce the need to climb them

  • Maintain silo ladders in good condition and fit fall prevention cages or use fall prevention harnesses

  • Identify overhead power lines that cross paddocks and roadways and put up safety warning signs

  • Adequately train workers to operate machinery in a safe and efficient manner

  • Provide safety induction manuals in each machine and vehicle and information for workers and contractors

  • Have a pre-harvest plan in place to reduce fatigue, especially when working at night time; i.e. rotate machinery operators and enforce regular meal breaks

  • Be prepared for emergencies, including fire; have an emergency plan included in a harvest safety induction. 

For more information and farm safety resources, check out and

PIHSP is funded by the Research and Development Corporations for the meat processing, cotton, grains, fishing and livestock industries as well as the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.

For more information about the Partnership visit