Farm safety: keeping safe around tractors

Tractors and machinery are the highest cause of farm deaths and accidents each year.

The facts speak for themselves and the most commonly used machinery on the farm, accounts for the most farm deaths – the tractor.

Almost every farm across Ireland will have at least one tractor for carrying out the day to day tasks.

Between 2007 and 2016, tractors and other farm vehicles accounted for 54 of the 197 fatalities on farms in Ireland.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has a number of tips for ensuring you stay safe when around tractors.

These include ensuring:

  • The tractor is maintained in good working condition.
  • A cab or safety frame is fitted.
  • All controls are in good working order and clearly marked.
  • Brakes are checked regularly and are always in sound working condition.
  • All relevant guards are in place and PTO and hydraulics are functioning correctly.
  • Mirrors, lights and wipers are in working order at all times.
  • The tractor is always parked safely.
  • The guidance in the operator’s manual is followed and operate the tractor in a safe manner.


Tractor maintenance


  • A cab or safety frame to OECD standards must be fitted. Look for corrosion on frames of older tractors.
  • Always ensure that the tractor can be started by the key and that the engine-stop control is effective.
  • The vehicle controls should all be in working order and clearly marked. A tidy cab allows safe and easy use of the controls.
  • Ensure that the cab floor is kept clear to allow safe use of brakes and clutch.
  • Brakes should be in good working order, balanced and interlocked, except when being used for field work.
  • A properly functioning handbrake is essential.
  • Ensure that the power take-off (PTO) can be turned on and off correctly, and that the PTO shield is kept in place at all times.
  • The hitch points of both tractor and trailer must not be worn.
  • Do not leave the tractor seat while the engine is running.
  • Maintain all tractor components, including hydraulics, U-guard and hitches.


General vehicle checks


  • Cab/roll bar in good condition.
  • U-guard is in place to cover the PTO stub.
  • All controls in working order and clearly marked/ understood.
  • Brakes in good working order and adequate for the work.
  • Handbrake fully operational.
  • Mirrors, lights, indicators and wipers functioning, clean and visible.
  • All hitching equipment free of defects.
  • All visible defects identified and rectified.


Remember: These tips could save your life. Farm vehicles & machinery account for the highest proportion of farm deaths and accidents.



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