Farm Safety Week - HSENI warns of dangers of agriculture on rural roads

Date published: 24 July 2020

As a finale to Farm Safety Week, HSENI would like to remind the farming community of the dangers associated with agriculture on our rural roads.

Tractor parked on farm

Tragically this year there have been a number of fatalities on our rural roads involving farm vehicles.

HSENI and the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) are asking drivers to be particularly vigilant when travelling on rural roads as PSNI reports highlight that, so far this year, 22 people have lost their life due to a rural road fatality. This message comes during Farm Safety week and one of the busiest times in the farming calendar.

UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt said: “Since the beginning of 2020 a number of fatal road accidents involving farm machinery on rural roads have occurred leaving families and the local community to deal with the devastating aftermath of losing a loved one. No one wants to experience this type of heartbreak which is why we are urging all road users to drive with care and caution when travelling on rural roads.

“During this time of year harvest has begun, farmers are putting out slurry and many are completing their second silage cut meaning there will be more agriculture machinery on rural roads from early in the morning and throughout the day.

“Agriculture vehicles are large and slow moving and when combined with the state of many rural roads that have hidden dips, poor road surfaces and twisty bends, an accident can occur very easily if the appropriate speed, and extra caution is not applied by drivers. It only takes a split second for something to occur and by driving appropriately, drivers will have more time to react which could make all the difference between a near accident and a fatal one.”

It is crucial that drivers are patient when they come into close proximity with agriculture vehicles and no matter the time of year, road users should expect to meet farmers going about their daily work whether that be in agriculture vehicles or moving livestock on foot.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Superintendent Brian Kee said: “It is important to remember that farmers and drivers of agricultural vehicles have a valuable role to play in keeping our roads safe.

“Remember: Always ensure that agricultural vehicles used on the road are properly maintained, with rear view mirrors fitted, working lights and effective braking systems. Take particular care with projections such as bale spikes - remove them or carry them in a safe position. Make sure your vehicle tyres are in good, legal condition, with the correct pressures, that you have enough fuel and that you’ve topped up all the fluid levels.

“When driving a slow-moving vehicle be considerate of other road users - use lay-bys to allow traffic to flow. Do not allow mud or dirt to accumulate on the road as this can be hazardous to other road users.

“All road users, particularly those using country roads, need to ensure they drive at an appropriate speed to give them enough time to react to any slower moving agricultural vehicles. Please take extra care and have patience to reduce risk by not making dangerous overtaking manoeuvres and only overtake when it is safe to do so.

“Stay safe on the roads and be considerate of others.”

The Ulster Farmers’ Union Legislation Policy Committee have produced an advisory booklet on the law surrounding agricultural vehicles entitled “Agriculture and the Public Roads”. Information within the booklet ranges from licensing farm vehicles, to trailer towing restrictions and includes an enhanced section on operational and road safety.

The booklet can be found on the HSENI website at

Notes to editors: 

1. For more information on the Farm Safety Partnership please contact HSENI on 0800 0320 121 or visit the FSP webpage: https://www.hseni.gov.uk/articles/farm-safety-partnership 

2. Farm Safety Week 2020 is supported by the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health and Safety Executive, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health and Safety Authority, Ireland.

3. The Campaign aims to highlight the serious dangers posed by farms and offers themed practical advice and guidance for farmers. This year Farm Safety Week highlights our new ‘Farm Safe Essentials’ message.

4. The Farm Safety Partnership comprises the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), NFU Mutual (NFUM), the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU), the Farm Safety Foundation, and the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA). It is tasked with assisting Northern Ireland’s farming community to work safely and tackle the problem of work-related fatalities and injuries on farms.

5. The Farm Safety Partnership’s ongoing ‘Stop and Think SAFE’ farm safety campaign focuses on the four main causes of death and injury on our farms – slurry, animals, falls and equipment (SAFE).

6. For media enquiries please contact HSENI Press Office on 028 9024 3249 or email media@hseni.gov.uk. For out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

7. HSENI is the lead body responsible for the promotion and enforcement of health and safety at work standards in Northern Ireland.

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