Date: 1 March 2012
This Safety Alert is to warn farmers, farm contractors and tyre fitters of the dangers associated with changing a wheel on slurry tankers. Work is ongoing to ensure the required safety standards are met and that safe systems of work are followed.
A farm worker tragically lost his life while changing a punctured wheel on a single axle slurry tanker weighing 9 tonne. He was on a farm lane on the way to a field with a full load when the puncture occurred. During the operation the tanker was attached to the tractor and a bottle jack along with timber blocks were being used for support. While working close to the tanker it overbalanced and crushed him.
HSENI have since been made aware of another almost identical incident which occurred when a tyre fitter suffered a major injury while changing a wheel on a similar machine. Jacking and propping in this instance had been carried out on the drawbar (centre line) due to the lack of access to a suitable jacking point. In both cases, the fitter and farmer were working very close to the body of the tanker i.e. within the danger zone.
Investigation of these two accidents has considered slurry tanker design and the safe systems of work used. It is a foreseeable maintenance task that tyres will be replaced during the working lifetime of a slurry tanker and that there is a risk of instability during wheel removal. However, it appears that for slurry tankers, this risk has not been recognised. The costs to a farmer of employing a professional tyre fitter were found to be low when compared to the cost of a heavy duty trolley jack and heavy duty axle stands.
Tyres on farm machinery have substantially increased in width, height and weight over recent years. This has introduced issues with:
On many slurry tankers, there is no clear indication or marking, to specify where to jack and prop safely. This should be provided using the internationally recognised symbol illustrated in Figure 1.
Figure 1 - Symbol for jacking or support point 
A number of possible causes of instability include:
HSENI are directing farmers to minimise the risks by:
HSENI advise those who are equipped and skilled to undertake the tyre removal and replacement task, to ensure that they have a safe system of work. This means in addition to the above, ensuring that:
Other useful information:
HSG 261 - Health and safety in motor vehicle repair and associated industries; http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg261.htm
INDG 434 – Working Safely under Motor Vehicles being repaired; http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg434.pdf
 BS ISO 3767-1:1998+A1:2008 Tractors, machinery for agriculture and forestry, powered lawn and garden equipment – Symbols for operator controls and other displays