Health and Safety farming transport inspection scheme set to get underway

Date published: 31 July 2023

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has announced an eight-month long programme of workplace-based transport inspections on farms across Northern Ireland. The work is being undertaken in a determined effort to reduce the number of fatal incidents on farms involving vehicles, which over the last ten years has claimed the lives of 17 people.

Farmers be aware of vehicles on our farms

The inspections programme will begin in August and continue until March 2024.

Incidents involving vehicles and equipment remain one the biggest causes of death and serious injury on local farms. Between 2013 and December 2022 there have been 53 fatalities on farms, 17 incidents involved vehicles.

HSENI Principal Inspector (Agriculture and Food) Camilla Mackey said: “Each and every death is a tragedy for a family and community. All of the incidents we have seen could have been prevented.  

“Often the older farmer or young children are involved in vehicle incidents on farms with tragic consequences.

“We have seen serious incidents involving vehicles as a result of inoperable or faulty braking systems, the lack of roll over protection, poor maintenance, failing to keep people and vehicles apart, and inadequate driver training.

“While we have been working closely with the farming community on a range of issues, this scheme is focused on workplace transport in three specific risk areas of safe site, safe vehicle, and safe driver.”

Typical items which will be addressed during inspections will include, but are not limited to:

Safe Site

  • Is there a single entrance to the farmyard and dwelling house?
  • How are vehicle/pedestrians managed during busy periods?
  • Are there young children on the farm, do they have a designated safe play area?
  • Are there visibility aids used around the farmyard such as convex/concave mirrors?
  • Is there sufficient lighting in the farmyard?
  • Are there older farmers on the farm, is their safety considered in relation to vehicle movements, slower reflexes, eyesight/hearing problems?
  • Are roadway surfaces well maintained and clear from obstructions?
  • Are slats on underground tanks checked to ensure stability for vehicles driving over them?

Safe Vehicle

  • Are all your farm vehicles adequately maintained by a competent person?
  • Are all mirrors, lights, window wipers and reversing cameras in place and in good condition?
  • Are all brakes working correctly on all vehicles?
  • Do all tractors and other farm vehicles have roll over protection structures in place and are they fit for purpose?
  • Have statutory examinations been completed for relevant vehicles/equipment used for lifting? e.g., telescopic handlers, man baskets
  • Are seat belts available and used where appropriate?

Safe Driver

  • Does the farmer including any other person working on the farm (i.e., family members, employees, and contractors) hold adequate licenses/training certificates for the vehicles they are authorised to drive?
  • Are all drivers on site aware of others who may be working or living on the premises and are they notified to look out for those people? i.e., vulnerable person’s such as older families’ members and young children?
  • Are drivers’ aware children must not be carried on any agricultural vehicles until they are aged thirteen or over?
  • Is the farmer aware of the legislation surrounding children driving agricultural vehicles? i.e., what age, training, types of vehicles, jobs they are capable of doing etc?
  • Are there adequate emergency procedures in place in the event that an incident occurs? For example, if lone working do drivers carry a mobile phone, use what three words etc, use check in procedures with family members?
  • Is there a mobile phone policy for drivers? 

Camilla Mackey added: “Farmers must also consider the safety of visitors to their site, for example veterinary services or DAERA staff, agricultural deliveries and collections, and contractors.

“We are calling on the farming community to work with us to help reduce the risks associated with farming by taking a few moments to think SAFE before every job.”

HSENI Inspectors will be providing information and advice during the inspection campaign. Where significant risks are found Inspectors may take enforcement action in order to achieve compliance with health and safety legislation to ensure that the risks are properly managed.

For more information on workplace transport safety in agriculture visit our website on:

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), is an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body, sponsored by the Department for the Economy (DfE), and is the lead body responsible for the promotion and enforcement of health and safety work standards in Northern Ireland:
  2. For media enquiries please contact: HSENI Press Office on 028 9024 3249 or by email at For out of hours please contact Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

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