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Health and Safety in potato stores

2 August 2011

Post-harvest health and safety information should be readily available to everyone who works in potato stores, says AHDB Potatoes technical adviser Phil Bradshaw.

Potato storage can be a high risk activity as it involves using machinery, chemicals, lifting and working at height.

“You really need to have a well thought-out policy to help avoid accidents,” he explains.  “In addition, it is advisable for employees working alone to have some means of calling for assistance in the event of an emergency.”

Phil reminds everyone that Section 2 of The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states ‘It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees’

“Accidents can happen to anyone – but they are more likely to happen if someone is not properly trained or does not treat machinery or chemicals with sufficient respect,” says Phil.

Top tips for safe potato operations

1. Ensure workplace floors do not have objects or liquids that can lead to trips and slips
2. Use sack trolleys wherever possible for moving heavy objects
3. Guards must not be removed from machines
4. Machinery must be turned off before adjusting or cleaning

Safe Potato Harvesting

1. Clear communication systems
2. Harvester driver must control the team and the machinery
3. When blockages occur, the engine must be turned off and the keys placed in the driver’s pocket
4. Overhead power lines can be a hazard and must be taken into account when tipping

Safe Potato Storage

1. Training for working at height is necessary
2. Safe practices include using specialised equipment
3. Do not use ladders on potato box stacks
4. Lone workers need to have effective communication systems and established ‘Sign in Sign out’ procedures
5. Storage structures should be sufficiently ventilated
6. Personnel should be adequately trained with appropriate emergency procedures and equipment in place

Safe Potato Handling

1. Drivers must control the loading and unloading of their vehicle
2. Equipment must not be overloaded
3. Adequate load security must be adhered to
4. When unloading, all employees must follow safe site procedures
5. All staff must be adequately trained for the equipment they use and hazards they may face
6. Appropriate personal protection equipment should be provided
7. Training should be refreshed when necessary
8. Records of employees training sessions should be kept. In the event of an accident, they will be needed!

Levy payers can request a FREE Health and Safety DVD by emailing, providing a phone number, postcode and  AHDB Potatoes Registration Number, or calling 02476 478 788 and leaving a voicemail stating the details requested above.

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