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Bogged vehicle event smashes expectations

Liz Wells, October 31, 2022

THE GRENFELL Showgrounds came alive last week for a bogged vehicle workshop that exceeded all expectations by attracting those keen to learn how to make this one a harvest to remember for all the right reasons.

Co-hosted by the local NSW Farmers branch and Delta Ag’s Lachlan Fertilizers, it attracted 580 attendees, well in excess of what Greenethorpe farmer and NSW Farmers Grenfell branch vice chair Jamie Wright initially expected when he floated the idea.

“They came from Deniliquin and Albury, and there was a bus from Lockhart and a bus from Temora,” Mr Wright said.

“It was predominantly people from the south, partly because the roads were flooded to the north.”

“We started off planning for 40.

“We were flabbergasted at how many people came along.”

The event was held from 3pm last Wednesday.

In addition to the organisers, it involved three machinery dealers – Carruthers, Hutcheon & Pearce, and South West Tractors – as well as tow-truck operators South West Tilt Trays, and WorkSafe NSW.

“Most people took something home; you only need to take one or two things away and it could save you an injury or worse.”

Strong motivation

The event shows the grassroots need for farm-safety events, and Mr Wright said it was motivated by two reasons.

One was the recent death of a local farmer during an on-farm vehicle recovery.

“He was a good, careful operator and it went wrong.”

“The other is the season being what it is, and that’s only going to get worse.”

Mr Wright said a drying out of conditions could well have seen the event cancelled as people got into harvest, as is normal by late October on the plains of NSW, but more rain has kept the crop late and headers in the shed for now.

It has also made getting bogged more than likely.

“It’s inevitable.”

Mr Wright said on-farm safety was one of many responsibilities shouldered by growers, and the strong turn-out showed it warranted a place in the spotlight for a day in the lead-up to harvest.

“That’s the trouble with the industry we’re in, and we wouldn’t be in a different one for a second, but there are so many hats you have to wear.”

Proactive approach encouraged

The day included practical demonstrations about what to attach and where, in readiness for vehicle recovery.

“The machinery dealers explained the best way to attach cables to the appropriate machines.

“Pre-fitting cable attachments to the underbelly of the machine will allow the operator to attach a cable so you can hook on and go.”

“Essentially, we need to avoid shackles and chains; they can become quite a projectile.”

“The best practice is a snatch strap, soft Ds, and steel-rope cables.”

Mr Wright said one hint to improve safety include the use of a dampener, fed on to the cable, to reduce the slingshot effect if a point in the towing assembly fails.

“That dampener could just be an old car tyre.”

Threading a dampener like an old car tyre on to a strap or cable can improve safety during vehicle recovery. Photo: Lachlan Fertilizers

Lachlan Fertilizers Grenfell branch manager Anthony Dixon said Mr Wright’s idea to host such an event was a great initiative.

“For a young local farmer to see a gap in the industry on knowledge about a safe way forward in getting vehicles out is a credit to him,” Mr Dixon said.

“For a lot of years, everyone’s gone through that process of getting their gear out when their bogged and not before.”

“Days like the one we had show it can be done better.”

Last month, a session about bogged vehicle recovery held within the CSIRO field day at Iandra, Greenethorpe, was also well received.

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NSW Farmers furthers call for safety

AS A WET harvest looms for NSW, the state’s peak farming body is warning people about the dangers of bogged machinery, with three people killed already this year through recovering bogged vehicles or machinery.

NSW Farmers Grains Committee chair Justin Everitt said the number of injuries and near misses was unknown as they were often not reported.

“We know people will feel under the pump to try and recoup some of the costs of sowing this crop, and that can lead to working in conditions where you’re likely to get stuck,” Mr Everitt said.

“This just adds to the pressure, and I know from experience it can be frustrating, but it’s really very important to be extra careful, because we’ve seen the disastrous consequences that can result from recovery gone wrong.

“Farms are an essential workplace but also a potentially dangerous one, so we all need to take care and work safely, because nothing can replace a life.”

According to SafeWork NSW, a 33-year-old farmer sustained fatal head injuries during the extraction of a bogged bulldozer at his neighbour’s farm in June.

This is understood to be the fatality at Greenethorpe mentioned earlier.

The man had been assisting his neighbour with the extraction when one of the two D-shackles connecting the recovery strap failed and was propelled through the glass door of the bulldozer.

Charles Laverty from the NSW Farmers Farm Safety Advisory Program said it was important to always take a minute or two to fully assess the situation if you get stuck, because it may be different to last time.

“Check the condition of the recovery equipment each and every time you use it – metal fatigue may affect anchor points, chains stretch, and cables and straps can fray,” Mr Laverty said.

“Always keep bystanders at least two-and-a-half times the length of the recovery straps, cables, or chains away from – and to the side – of the recovery. Never stand next to it.

“When using cables, consider the use of pulleys for mechanical advantage, and when joining straps, avoid the use of steel shackles – they become projectiles if something breaks.”

Farming accounts for one in every five worker deaths.

Reduce the risk to workers and others involved in vehicle and farm equipment recovery by:

  • assessing the work environment and conditions prior to commencing work;
  • avoiding using vehicles and farm equipment if there is a likelihood of becoming bogged
  • postponing the work until conditions improve;
  • creating an exclusion zone around the vehicle or piece of equipment during the recovery activity;
  • having inside the exclusion zone only the vehicle operator and those necessary in the recovery;
  • ensuring an effective communication method is established between them (voice, radio, hand signals);
  • ensuring anyone within the exclusion zone is standing at 90 degrees to the axis of the tow line;
  • not standing at either end of the tow line as you are at higher risk of injury if the tow line breaks;
  • only using straps and attachments that are correctly rated for the weight and type of work involved;
  • using a recovery damper to reduce the force of the recoil and risk of injury if the recovery line does break;
  • only using anchor points on vehicles and machinery approved by the manufacturer;
  • aborting the extraction of the bogged vehicle or equipment if things are not going to plan;
  • choosing plant with laminated glass and external structural protection where available;
  • consulting the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for tougher glass options and operator cabin protection in mobile plant;
  • only using well maintained and approved equipment in line with the manufacturer’s instructions;
  • performing a risk assessment before attempting any vehicle or equipment recovery;
  • ensuring you have an emergency procedure in place.

Source: NSW Farmers

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