Accidents involving tractors and machinery have been the main cause of serious and fatal accidents on farms over the last 10 years. So far this year 21 people have been killed in Agriculture, with 14 of those deaths involving tractors and machinery.
In an effort to improve and increase safety awareness around tractors, the Health and Safety Authority, An Garda Síochána and the Road Safety Authority have today (Tuesday 23rd September) launched an ‘Essential Tractor Safety Checks’ leaflet at the National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co Laois.
The leaflet has been designed to provide tractor users with a series of simple visual checks that should be undertaken regularly. These checks are easy to carry out and, if done properly, will help to protect the driver, passengers and anyone in the vicinity of the tractor, whether on the road or on the farm.
Pat Griffin, Senior Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority, says that it is important to understand why so many of the fatalities are associated with tractors, “When we study the causes of deaths involving tractors very often we find that poor maintenance, inappropriate usage, lack of training and competence are the main factors. Tractors are essential to the work of the farm, they have made farming more productive and reduced the need for heavy labour. Maybe it is because these developments have been so beneficial that the dangers are less apparent. Farmers must be aware of the dangers and focus on working safely at all times.”
Chief Superintendent Michael O’Sullivan, Garda National Traffic Bureau said:-
“Working with tractors and machinery carries risk, whether on or off road, especially if simple checks are not carried out. It is essential for any driver or operator to take a few minutes to carry out these safety checks, not only for their safety but for all around them. An Garda Síochána are delighted to join with the HSA and RSA to produce this simple but effective check list for the safety of all working with such equipment.”
Mr. Michael Rowland, Director, Road Safety, Driver Education and Research with the RSA asked farmers to also be safety conscious whenever bringing a farm vehicle onto the public road. “Farmers should be aware of traffic building up behind them and keep left where possible to allow other vehicles pass safely. I would appeal to other road users to show patience when encountering farm machinery on the road. With understanding on both sides, the roads can be safer for everybody.”
He also reminded drivers of agricultural vehicles that they are covered by road traffic laws on driver licensing, insurance, standards in relation to vehicle roadworthiness, vehicle lighting and motor tax.
The Essential Tractor Safety Checks covered by the leaflet are;
- Initial Checks,
- Driver Checks,
- Windscreen and Side Windows,
- Lights & Indicators,
- Tyres and Wheels,
- Safe Parking,
- External Checks, and
- In Cab Checks
Copies are freely available online from www.hsa.ie or at the HSA (Stand No.301, Row 21, Block 2), An Garda Síochána (Stand No.317, Row 22, Block2) and Road Safety Authority (Stand No. 315, Row 22, Block2) exhibits at the National Ploughing Championships.