Safety planning around hot water use

Safety planning around hot water use

22 October 2019

From flushing out the pit to hot washing of the milking system, water is an essential component for dairy hygiene and it is often heated to high temperatures.

“People working in farm dairies are exposed to numerous hazards involving machinery and moving parts, animals, slips, trips, falls, exoskeletal injuries, electrical and chemical hazards - and burns from hot water,” says Al McCone, Agricultural Lead for WorkSafe New Zealand.

“With milk at peak flow in November and December, these are very busy months on dairy farms. It’s also when we see the highest number of ACC claims for farm workplace injuries involving contact with a hot object.

“Using hot water might be an everyday occurrence but accidents on farms very commonly happen when people are carrying out familiar tasks they have done many times before. The use of very hot water in the dairy shed needs to be recognised as a risk and measures put in place to manage that,” says Al.

Dairy design and signage are important factors. Very hot water taps should be located where children cannot reach them and designed so they cannot be easily opened by getting caught on clothing or being leaned on.

“The best options are taps that require a two-step process to turn them on,” says Al.

“Extend pipes and hoses deep into drums to reduce splashing, insulate exposed pipes to prevent burns and label water pipes and taps with safety signs saying, ‘very hot water.’”

Before flushing out the dairy shed or pit, check the area is clear and put out signage or cones to alert others that cleaning with hot water (or chemicals) is happening. Always make sure children, especially young ones, are well supervised and there is no risk of them wandering in while cleaning is underway.

“Hoses in farm dairies tend to be high pressure which heightens the risk with hot water, so consider having a high volume but low pressure hose.

“The key to behaving safely is communication. Make sure everyone in the dairy knows what is going on and who is doing what, when. Signs and regular procedures help, but setting and maintaining expectations about communication is where you need to start.”

The Staying Safe in and Around Farm Dairies guidelines can be downloaded at

Article supplied by Worksafe