Harvest time brings added danger on the roads

Just as the workload on farms increases at this time of year, so do the insurance claims made by farmers.

Harvest is one of the busiest and most dangerous times. Picture: Contributed
Harvest is one of the busiest and most dangerous times. Picture: Contributed

According to Patrick Quigley of H&H Insurance brokers: “Accidents on the road involving farm machinery increase by 60 per cent during harvest season as regular traffic grapples with the addition of large farm vehicles taking to the roads up and down the country.”

The increase in road accidents involving farm vehicles at harvest time is just one consequence of the increased pressure on farming during this busy period, said Quigley, who referred to recent Health and Safety Executive statistics which showed that not only did agriculture have the worst accident record in industry comparisons but the figures deteriorated further during the harvest season.

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“At such a busy time of year, it is inevitable that risks increase and therefore it is essential to adapt accordingly,” he said. “Not only ensure you are taking appropriate steps to manage these risks but also check that you, your workers and your farm are properly covered.”

Quigley said farmers and farmworkers needed to be fully aware of the frustrations a slow moving vehicle could cause other road users.

While the Highway Code rather vaguely stated “do not hold up a long queue of traffic,” it did not provide information on what constituted a long queue, he noted.

“The best advice I can offer is for drivers to check their mirrors frequently and if they see a queue building up, pull in at the first available opportunity, where it is safe, to let other road users pass.”

He added it was crucial for farmers and farmworkers to think more about how their own driving impacted on other road users as statistics proved accidents with farm vehicles were more likely to involve fatalities.

There was also a need for everyone to be more aware of their responsibilities. “Ensure you and your workers are fully aware of the rules of the road in respect of tractor speed, mud on the road, tractor and trailer weights, young drivers, children in cabs and mobile phones.”

Quigley then mentioned the need for farmers to check the details of their insurance policies. While most policies included insuring detached cover for trailed implements such as balers and mowers, there could be a maximum compensation amount in such cases, he warned.

Yet another potential problem area came with employing temporary staff during the labour peak at harvest, said Quigley.“Most employers’ liability policies will cover temporary workers, but care should be taken to declare the additional wage roll at the annual renewal review,” he advised.