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Potato farms – making them a safer place to work

25 August 2011

Potato growers attending British Potato 2009 were the first to receive the latest and updated version of the AHDB Potatoes Safe Potato Operations DVD.

Produced for the farm team involved with in-field and in-store potato grading, with support from the National Farmers Union (NFU), Grimme UK, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the DVD integrates the importance of health and safety with the correct use of farm equipment and preserving potato quality and marketable yield.

AHDB Potatoes chairman Allan Stevenson has called for the whole potato industry to make use of the valuable training tool. “A whole team approach to health and safety is vital; the practical advice was developed by consulting with farm owners, managers and operatives.

“The 15 minute modules are an ideal refresher to staff and a powerful training tool for new or casual employees that reinforces the basic messages in a very visual format appropriate to farm workers, even if their first language is not English. Non-English speakers can view the five-language DVD with subtitles and read the guidance in their native language.”

Growers were able to register at British Potato 2009 for their copy on the AHDB Potatoes stand, free only to levy-payers. If you missed the chance then copies can be ordered from the AHDB Potatoes website at
HSE head of safety for agriculture Alan Plom says: “Potato harvesting and handling continues to be one of the most dangerous sectors of the agriculture industry. HSE is investigating a number of serious incidents this year, including the death of a man who was apparently working on a potato harvester and a farmer who had his arm crushed in cleaning rollers.
'We fully support this DVD and are confident that if farmers implement the guidance on it, then they will greatly reduce the likelihood of death and injury to themselves or those who work for them.'

The DVD has sections for different levels of staff that highlight specific responsibilities. The supervisor can sit down with staff – select the correct option for language, work area and roles – and watch the film, which covers all angles of the specific operation. At the end of the DVD, a test can be taken to check understanding and viewing repeated if appropriate. Personal details can then be manually entered on a printed certificate, signed and dated and securely filed as a formal health and safety record.
Barry Baker from Grimme UK says: “Safety has advanced in machinery and equipment over the years. Very often the main operator has been shown how to use a certain piece of equipment. But it is vital everyone who comes into contact with potato machinery understands and is aware of the risks and how the equipment should be operated and used safely. The DVD provides the solution and highlights the communication that is required for the whole farm team during harvesting and grading to ensure the operation is conducted safely.”
A library of printable advice sheets is available on the DVD and supplements the film footage. These include a daily check list for casual farm staff.

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