Children and the elderly are most in danger on farms, particularly from tractors, according to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

Warning farmers, the authority was present at the Tullamore Show yesterday, Sunday, August 11, to drive the message home.

At the show, the HSA joined forces with the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána to reissue a safety advice leaflet to farmers at the annual agricultural event in Offaly.

While farms are homes as well as workplaces, the HSA is highlighting the risks on the farm, particularly for elderly people and children.

Of the 61 people who died in tractor deaths in the last decade, 28 were aged 65 or over. In the same period, from 2009 to 2018, six children were killed in tractor incidents.

So far, five people have died this year in tractor or vehicle related farm deaths, with the majority aged over 65.

HSA chief executive Dr. Sharon McGuinness expressed concern at the age profile of the fatalities.

“Far too many of our older and younger generations are being killed by tractors,” she said.

As farmers age, chances multiply that they will be killed or seriously injured while working as physical tasks become tougher than they used to be.

“Measures should also be taken to ensure children do not play on or near tractors, where the driver may not see them in a blind spot.”

Dr. McGuinness urged all drivers to read the Essential Tractor Safety Checks leaflet before setting foot on their tractor.

“For the sake of a few minutes, I would appeal to farmers to put this leaflet near their vehicle and to carry out this simple checklist before starting their engines – it could save a life on your farm today.”

The safety leaflet from the HSA, the RSA and An Garda Síochána provides practical advice on how to reduce risk with tractors, including:
  • Use the flashing amber beacon at all times in accordance with new lighting and visibility laws;
  • Keep tractor windows and mirrors clean to allow an unobscured view;
  • Keep tractors in good serviceable and road worthy condition;
  • Keep steering systems and all brakes working correctly;
  • Apply the handbrake before leaving the cab, remove key from engine and dismount facing the tractor.

Also advising drivers, Moyagh Murdock, chief executive of the RSA, said: “We really need to be on the look-out for farm machinery exiting from fields and farmyards too – expect the unexpected.

“Farmers need to be safety conscious whenever bringing a farm vehicle onto the public road. While farmers have a job to do, they need to think about other road users too.

“If the traffic is building up behind, keep left where possible to allow it to pass safely.”

Superintendent Eddie Golden, of the Roads Policing unit, said:

The introduction of the revised regulations for agricultural vehicles in 2016 focused on a number of key safety areas which included braking, suspension systems, tyres and lights, weights, dimensions and coupling.

“The majority of correctly maintained tractors/machinery already in use comply with the new standards. However, due to the nature of the work, constant maintenance is necessary to maintain these standards.”