Farmers are being urged to take one minute to ensure they know the five checks tractor drivers should focus on before and during the “busy season”.

The five checks are underlined by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) in a video as part of its ongoing focus on farm machinery safety, launched last month with an “intensive” inspection campaign.

The video advises: “At the start of every season and regularly during it farmers should carry out the following checks on their tractor.”

The five checks highlighted are to:
  • Check that the tyres are properly inflated for the work they are about to do;
  • That all hydraulics have an adequate oil supply with no leaks and also check the engine oil levels;
  • Be sure that the brake latch is in the correct position and that the foot brakes and handbrake are in perfect working order;
  • Check that the mirrors are intact and properly adjusted for the driver; and
  • Be sure that all lights are working and kept clean; and that visibility is not blocked by dirty or broken windows or doors.

The five checks are outlined in a one-minute video released by the HSA on social media over the weekend, with the powerful caption: “Spend one minute to watch this video that can save your life.”

In addition, the HSA has underlined the danger of “crush zones” when using farm machinery.

The authority warned farmers to make sure that they are aware of and stay out of crush zones when using machinery.

The organisation urged producers to observe the following rules of thumb:
  • When exiting machinery make sure the handbrake is fully applied;
  • Be aware of the dangers of unattended machinery and use the safe stop procedure;
  • When leaving the cab to attach equipment or opening gates be aware of and stay out of crush zones;
  • Make sure all farm personnel are clearly visible at all times when reversing any machinery;
  • When handling bales be aware of the dangers of stacked bales collapsing or bales falling from a height; and
  • Never walk under a raised front loader or any raised load, even when empty.

Last month, the HSA launched an “intensive” inspection campaign, focusing on tractors and farm machinery, starting from Tuesday, 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.