HSA to begin ‘intensive’ farm inspections from next week

The Health and Safety Authority will begin an “intensive” inspection campaign, focusing on tractors and farm machinery, starting from April 23.

In announcing the inspections, the HSA said that, over the last 10 years, just over half of fatal farm injuries involved vehicles and machinery.

The HSA also highlights that, in recent years, the number of fatalities in incidents involving vehicles has risen sharply, particularly where quad bikes are involved; there were four deaths involving this type of vehicle in 2017 alone.

Quad bikes are one type of ‘farm vehicle’, which also includes tractors and loaders in the definition.

“We’re running this inspection campaign earlier this year to give farmers plenty of time to plan for the safe use of tractors and machinery ahead of the busy silage harvesting season,” said Pat Griffin, senior inspector with the HSA.

“Our message is clear: Advance preparation and formal training is the key to working safely with machinery on farms,” he added.

According to the HSA, the majority of vehicle and machinery accidents on farms are as a result of: poor planning; operator error; a lack of training; maintenance issues; or the presence of children or elderly people nearby.

The HSA says that farmers need to ask themselves the following questions:

  • Has the work activity been planned in advance?;
  • Has the driver or operator received formal training?;
  • Are handbrakes or parking brakes working properly?;
  • Are cabs and doors in good condition?;
  • Are tractor mirrors set and maintained correctly?;
  • Is work organised to avoid the presence of young children or other vulnerable individuals such as elderly family members?

“Farmers must make sure they have the necessary skills and competence to do the job safely. The condition of the machinery is also vital and any required maintenance should be addressed without delay,” continued Griffin.

He called on farmers to complete the Farm Risk Assessment survey, which is available here.