The Health & Safety Authority (HSA) remains concerned with safety issues around farm vehicles in Ireland, with a new farm vehicle inspection campaign being launched as a result. A specific focus is being placed on tractors and quad bikes (ATVs) as they continue to be a leading cause of vehicle related fatality on Irish farms.
- In the five year period 2018 to 2022 there were a total of 34 vehicle related fatalities on Irish farms.
- Of the 34 vehicle related fatalities 18 involved tractors and 4 involved quad bikes (ATVs).
- Of the 4 quad bike (ATV) related fatalities, 2 involved children and 2 involved people over 60.
- Of the 18 farm fatalities involving tractors 10 involved people aged 65 or over.
The current Farm Safety Action plan was published by the HSA, in partnership with Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee to cover 2021- 2024 and focuses on safety critical areas on farms. The new plan places a particular focus on high-risk activities, particularly tractors, ATVs and general vehicle use. The requirement for training and PPE when using an ATV for work purposes is a new requirement which has been deemed necessary to reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities resulting from the use of ATVs, particularly on farms. The new regulations, which apply to all workplaces, comes into force in November 2023 and HSA Inspectors during this campaign will be offering guidance to farmers on ensuring compliance in advance of the November deadline.
According to Pat Griffin, Senior Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority, “we’re running this inspection campaign primarily to encourage farmers to take time to plan for the safe use of tractors and machinery ahead of the busy silage harvesting season. We urge famers to plan ahead and make sure all involved in silage harvesting, all workers and contractors, have the necessary training and competence to do the job safely. Safe systems of work that minimise risk must be planned for on each farm and followed by all involved. Training must take place if it hasn’t already, particularly for new operators, to ensure the safe use of all machinery. The condition of the machinery to be used is also critical and any maintenance required should be identified & addressed now, well in advance of use, particularly to hitching, steering and braking systems.”
The majority of injuries and fatalities with tractors, ATVs or farm machinery involve a combination of operator error, poor maintenance procedures and a lack of training, combined with the presence of children/elderly near the work activity.
Farmers need to consider the following:
- Has the work activity been planned in advance?
- Have all drivers or operators received adequate instruction and training?
- Are brakes, handbrakes or parking brakes working properly?
- Are cabs and doors in good condition?
- Are tractor mirrors clean, in good condition and set correctly?
- Do all operators of vehicles have the correct PPE?
- Is work organised to avoid the presence of young children or other vulnerable individuals such as elderly family members?
Pat Griffin added, “we are asking all farmers and contractors, before the silage season starts, to complete the dedicated ‘Harvesting checklist’ in the new Farm Risk Assessment document to help identify any necessary improvements. (Also available through www.farmsafely.com). Serious injuries or further deaths can be prevented if farmers carry out this risk assessment, plan their work in advance, ensure important precautions are taken and remember to keep people and vehicles separate to ensure safety.”
For further information in relation to tractor and machinery safety on farms and a wide range of other farm safety topics, visit www.hsa.ie
To undertake the online risk assessment visit www.farmsafely.com
Source: Health & Safety Authority