You should develop a safe working plan for storing your stock and equipment, concentrating on the main risks of injury and ill health on your farm.
In most cases, these will be musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from manual handling, slips and trips, vehicles in and around the storage areas, and work at height. Your plan will be most effective if it has the full involvement of staff in identifying both problems and practical solutions. You should provide training in safe manual handling and safe mechanical handling for all workers involved in these activities.
Storage areas should be designed and laid out to allow for the safe movement of stock, equipment and people. Good design and layout can help reduce accidents, including those involving vehicles, and people slipping and tripping. People and vehicles should be segregated as far as is reasonably practicable. When thinking about design and layout, consider storage areas, pedestrian routes, aisles and gangways, stairs, ramps and emergency escape routes. Vehicles reversing are a major risk. Try to put systems in place to prevent or reduce reversing, such as one-way systems, or to reduce the hazards of reversing, such as designated reversing areas or suitably placed mirrors.
There should be enough room for people to move freely when storing or retrieving items. Floors and traffic routes should be designed and constructed to withstand the use to which they will be put, without danger of overloading, be resistant to any substances that might be spilled on them, and have effective drainage where necessary. Avoid slopes, holes, and uneven or slippery surfaces that may cause a person to trip or fall, drop or lose control of a load, or to lose control of a vehicle or its load.
Where a temporary obstruction is unavoidable, take steps to warn people, such as using hazard cones. Keep all areas as clean and tidy as reasonably practicable at all times and have systems in place to clean up spillages quickly and safely. Ensure that buildings used for storage are well lit, well ventilated and that the temperature and humidity is kept within a range that is acceptable both for the items stored and for the workers using them.
At least 3500 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases. If buildings used for storage contain asbestos, you must put a risk management plan in place to control the risks. If necessary, seek professional assistance. Guidance is available on the HSE website. Electrical systems should be well maintained and regularly checked.
Working with bales involves the risk of serious injury and death. Hazards include falling from bale stacks, falling from vehicles and machinery used to transport bale stacks, being struck by falling bales, electrocution from contact with overhead power lines (OHPLs), trips and falls from loose bale string, contact with bale handling machinery, and fires. Health problems can result from manual handling of bales and from exposure to dust.
Anyone stacking bales should be trained in how and where to build stacks safely or be competently supervised, be aware of the risks and precautions and understand working procedures, be properly trained to use machinery safely, be medically and physically fit for the work, and wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a dust mask and gloves.
Build stacks on dry, level, freely-draining ground with good access and away from OHPLs and sources of ignition such as fertilisers or fuel. Provide signs to warn people to stay away. Prevent children from playing on or near bales. Whenever possible, use mechanical equipment for handling bales. If stacking or de-stacking by hand, use a safe means of access and avoid working near edges or overreaching for bales.
Ammonium nitrate fertiliser is an explosion hazard and must be treated with care. It should be stored in dedicated, single-storey, well ventilated buildings made of materials that will not burn, such as concrete, brick or steel. In some circumstances, such as where it is stored in densely populated areas, it may be better to store it outside, in a secure area away from combustible materials and sources of contamination, thus removing the risk of fire from electric lights and other equipment. Prohibit smoking in all storage areas. Keep all equipment clean to prevent contamination with fuel, oil and grease. Clear spillages promptly. Inform your local fire authority that ammonium nitrate is stored on your farm and agree with them the arrangements for giving early warning of a fire, providing suitable access to the site and ensuring that an adequate supply of water is available to tackle an incident.