Farmers reminded to transport hay and straw safely this harvest
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Northamptonshire Police is sharing advice from Highways England to ensure farmers are aware of their responsibilities when moving hay and straw.
Fallen hay and straw can block drains on roads, leading to issues with surface water and flooding, and overly tall stacks of bales on trailers can strike bridges.
A driver is required to know the height of the entire vehicle and shouldn’t set off until they have measured the height of their load and are sure they can fit under bridges on their route. A risk assessment is recommended to ensure that routes are suitable and drivers know load heights.
Loads should also be built up safely and appropriately secured for transport.
Guidance shared by Highways England regarding the safe stacking of bales also applies when bales are being transported. It says stacks should be constructed with:
- A wide base that narrows slightly as it gets higher
- Alternating layers of single or double bales that ‘tie in’ those below, i.e. there should be an overlap of half a bale width all round to add enough stability and strength to stop the stack from splitting. This is especially important if stacks are close to public roads, footpaths or in an area where people may be present
Highways England also advises that loads are secured so that they cannot fall or blow off the vehicle – including loose strands of hay or straw.
This means if there is a risk of loose hay or straw coming off a trailer, farmers should consider using netting or sheeting to cover the load, with care taken to avoid climbing on it in order to do so.