Last week saw a coroner in Northern Ireland call for the introduction of MOT/NCT tests for all farm machinery. The call came in the wake of an inquest into the accidental death of a County Armagh farmer in 2015. Problems with the handbrake and gear box were found to be the cause of the accident.
Coroner Paddy McGurgan said: “It is disappointing to note that the EU in their wisdom, the powers that be, have rejected the need for an MOT-type system involving farming machinery. I as coroner believe that could only have been a good thing.”
Responding to these developments, the IFA said that it would not back calls for the introduction of NCT-equivalent tests for farm machinery.
A spokesperson for the organisation said that “the safety of farmers is extremely important to IFA”.
“It is worth noting that farmers are currently subject to significant specific requirements regarding the safety of their tractors, machinery, farm vehicles and ATV’s.”
IFA has listed the current safety standards which farm machinery must meet. These are:
- The Cab/Roll bar is in good condition.
- The U guard is in place to cover the PTO stub.
- All controls are in working order.
- The brakes are in good working order and adequate for the work undertaken.
- The handbrake is fully operational.
- The mirrors, lights, indicators and wipers are all functioning, clean and visible.
- All hitching equipment is free of defects.
- All visible defects in the vehicle are identified and rectified.
- All safety guards/devices are fitted.
- The PTO “O” guards are present.
- The hydraulic systems and hoses are in good repair.
“Farmers are also required to comply with detailed safety practices, all of which must be fully recognised before any further measures are made mandatory.”
Back in 2014, the European Commission’s proposed that tractors capable of travelling more than 40kph and trailers weighing more than 750kg should be submitted for an NCT-equivalent test on an annual basis. However, members of the European Parliament shelved plans on the grounds of cost.
In November of last year, a working group of the Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee, said it was considering the establishment of a mandatory safety test system for tractors.