A Guide to Farm Machinery Maintenance
Regular maintenance is important when it comes to any piece of farming machinery.
Not only does it cost less in the long term than having to repair any major damage, but it is also far easier to budget for small, regular expenses than a much more significant expense that could strike at any time, without warning.
What’s more, the regular maintenance and inspection of your farming equipment will allow you to identify signs of visible wear and damage before they cause a major issue.
Of course, maintenance work can introduce new hazards and risks, so it’s important the work is undertaken safely. After all, many serious accidents on farms involve machinery, often during maintenance or unblocking.
With this in mind, it’s important that everyone involved in the maintenance of farm machinery is fully aware of the relevant hazards and the precautions that should be taken in order to prevent them.
Here’s our brief guide to safe and effective farm machinery maintenance:
It’s vital that, before you undertake any maintenance work on a machine, you ensure it is safe to work on, following the Safe Stop procedure:
- Engage the handbrake
- Ensure all controls are in neutral
- Switch the engine off or turn the power off
- Remove the key or lock the power supply
Safe Stop should be followed:
- Every time you leave the driver’s seat or the operating position
- When anyone approaches the vehicle or machinery
- Before any maintenance or adjustments are carried out
Dealing with Pressurised Machinery
Pressurised machinery such as slurry tankers, boilers, and air receivers, pose an enhanced risk as they may burst or explode violently, leading to potential injuries or fatalities. To reduce the risk of this happening, make sure you keep all pressurised equipment and machinery well maintained, ensuring:
- The plant or equipment is fit for purpose and is correctly installed
- You are aware of the equipment’s safe working temperature and pressure
- Safety valves are fitted to relieve excess pressure
- Safety devices are fitted to reduce the risk of over or under pressurisation occurring
- You avoid accidentally pressurising the equipment or machinery
- Any modifications are undertaken by a qualified professional and fully tested and certified afterwards
Much of the equipment on farm is controlled by hydraulics which can pose a serious danger when repairing and maintaining. Always consult the operator’s manual and follow these basic safety procedures
- Ensure the system is depressurised and hydraulic cylinders are not supporting any load, with safety locks installed where necessary.
- Take extra care with systems containing hydraulic accumulators. These can store a significant amount of pressurised oil even when the circuit is disconnected.
- Regularly check the condition of hoses and repair and replace any damage.
- Ensure the hose meets the required specification for the system and fittings are correctly installed
General Preventative Maintenance
There are a number of simple, maintenance tips you should carry out regularly to ensure your machinery remains in optimum condition:
- Check all hoses, fittings, and seals are in good condition
- Check all fluids, such as the engine oil and coolant
- Check filters and replace if necessary
- Ensure all tires, wheels, and wheel bearings are in good condition and fully inflated
- Inspect the battery for signs of corrosion
- Ensure all lights, signals, and hazards are working properly
Dealing with Blockages
Dealing with blockages is a key part of farm machinery maintenance. However, it can also be a high-risk task and every year a number of people are killed or seriously injured when attempting to clear blockages from their machinery.
The following procedure should help to prevent accidents whilst clearing blockages:
- Firstly, follow the Safe Stop process, as outlined above.
- Next, assess the blockage. Do you have the necessary skills and experience to clear it? If not, you should seek professional assistance.
- Plan how you will tackle the job, ensuring you have the necessary tools and equipment. Never use your hands or try to kick a blockage free.
- If more than one person is working on the machine, make sure each person knows what the others are doing.
- Secure anything that might fall on you. Keep in mind that the loss of power may cause parts of the machinery to fall or rotate freely.
- Once you’ve removed the blockage, make sure you replace all guards before restarting your machine, even if it’s just for a test run.
- Before restarting the machine, make sure everyone is standing clear of the equipment and in the eye line of the operator.
Personal Protective Equipment
Many injuries can be avoided if appropriate protective equipment is worn. Correct safety boots and overalls are a must when working on or around any equipment, but each job needs to be assessed for the appropriate safety wear. Respiratory equipment, gas monitors, gloves, eye protection and specialist coveralls are also required in many farm situations.
Be prepared and ensure that you have suitable first aid provision that is easily accessible and regularly checked.
At Spaldings, we stock a huge selection of farm machinery maintenance products – helping you safely complete a huge range of tasks around the farm. To find out more and see our full selection, visit our homepage or call us on 01522 500600.