The Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors of Ireland is urging contractors and farmers to ensure that silage pit heights are no more than twice the height of the retaining walls.
Slope the pit sides and ends to a maximum of 45 degrees from where the silage meets the pit walls or from the ground on a slab, the FCI advises.
The call comes as “silage pit heights continue to grow to dangerous height levels", according to the association.
Michael Moroney – Chief Executive at FCI said: “In recent weeks, concerns have been raised by contractors when filling silage pits, as grass yields have increased.”
“In many cases, farmers are striving to put additional grass into silage pits that were probably designed and built 20-30 years ago.”
He stressed that there are limitations in terms of operator safety with regard to loading shovels being used this year.
“We have received a number of reports from contractors where farmers are requesting/forcing them to work on silage pits that are over 10 metres (35ft) high,”
“Our members are concerned about the safety of their drivers working wheeled-loaders at these heights.”
“These are heavy machines, often over 15 tonnes in weight, and are now being urged/requested to work at dangerous heights on an unstable surface that is grass silage,” he added.
FCI is requesting that the Health and Safety Authority issue a Working Height Directive for silage pits, limiting the height to which a silage pit can be filled or loaded to a maximum height of 6 metres.
Alternatively, FCI requests that the Health and Safety Authority issues a Working Height Directive that limits the height to which a silage pit can be filled or loaded, to twice the height the silage pit retaining walls.
In the meantime, the association advises all farm contractors to exercise extreme caution in the construction of high pits of silage.