The Health and Safety Authority will begin an intensive inspection campaign on Tuesday 23rd April with a focus on the safe use of tractors and machinery on farms.
Over the last 10 years, (2009 – 2018) over half (51%) of all fatal farm injuries involved vehicles (30%) and machinery (21%). Farm vehicles are generally defined as tractors, loaders or quad bikes. In recent years there has been a sharp increase in the number of fatalities involving farm vehicles, particularly quad bikes with four related deaths in 2017 alone.
According to Pat Griffin, Senior Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority, “We’re running this inspection campaign earlier this year to give farmers plenty of time to plan for the safe use of tractors and machinery ahead of the busy silage harvesting season. Our message is clear, advance preparation and formal training is the key to working safely with machinery on farms. Farmers must make sure they have the necessary skills and competence to do the job safely. The condition of the machinery is also vital and any required maintenance should be addressed without delay”.
The majority of accidents with tractors or machinery involve a combination of poor planning, operator error, lack of training, maintenance issues or the presence of children/elderly near work activity. Farmers need to consider the following:
- Has the work activity been planned in advance?
- Has the driver or operator received formal training?
- Are handbrakes or parking brakes working properly?
- Are cabs and doors in good condition?
- Are tractor mirrors set and maintained correctly?
- Is work organised to avoid the presence of young children or other vulnerable individuals such as elderly family members
All farmers can complete the new Farm Risk Assessment document available through www.farmsafely.com which has a dedicated “harvesting” checklist to help identify any necessary improvements. Serious injuries or further deaths can be prevented if farmers plan their work in advance and ensure important precautions are taken.