Putting Safety in the Driving Seat

Date published: 25 July 2017

HSENI annual workplace fatality statistics show signs of behavioural change but there is still a need to reduce the excessively high rate of accidents in the industry. Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and Health & Safety Authority, Ireland once again join forces to drive the initiative. Tuesday's theme - Machinery & Transport

In recent years, work-related fatalities in the UK and Ireland’s farming industries have been disproportionate compared to the number of deaths in other industries.


Tuesday of Farm Safety Week focuses on Machinery & Transport. Poorly used or faulty vehicles and machinery are a major cause of death and injury on farms. Farmers come into contact with a host of machinery daily - combines, choppers and hay balers which bring their own attendant dangers. Hands, hair and clothing can be caught by unguarded PTO shafts or other unguarded moving parts such as pulleys and belts. People can be injured by front-end loaders, falling from a moving tractor or being struck by its wheels. 

Modern farm machinery present many dangers if they are not kept in a good condition, and while they allow farmers to work more quickly and efficiently, safety issues must be adhered to when carrying out necessary repairs.


Farmers are again being reminded of the risks involved in the maintenance of machinery, including tractors, and are encouraged to take the appropriate steps before engaging in any repair work.


The correct equipment must always be used for the job; this includes wheel chocks and a trolley jack or suitable props. Farmers should also consider employing a competent mechanic to carry out repairs.



From 2000-2017, there have been seven deaths on Northern Ireland farms confirmed by HSENI, which were attributable to faulty brakes / handbrakes, so it is crucial when parking a tractor that the farmer remains in his seat until the brakes have been applied properly; the slightest incline on where a tractor may be parked can be enough to cause the tractor to roll if the brakes have not been applied properly.


To highlight the issue of Tractor Maintenance, HSENI has produced a new radio advert aimed at making farmers aware of the dangers of ensuring that tractor braking systems are applied properly, or recognising that a tractor has a defective braking system.


The radio advert is aimed at encouraging farmers to recognise the dangers when parking a tractor, and to use the following checklist:


            ●          Make sure the handbrake is FULLY APPLIED

            ●          Make sure all the controls and equipment are left safe

            ●          Turn off the engine AND remove the key


Accidents involving equipment is one of the four areas targeted by the Farm Safety Partnership’s on-going campaign, ‘Stop and Think SAFE’. The four main causes of death and injury on our farms are slurry, animals, falls and equipment (SAFE).


The following Farm Safety checklist should also help you and others to stay safe on your farm:



● keep all guards in place on tractors and equipment, especially PTO guards

● make sure that all mirrors and cameras (if fitted) are clean and fully functional on tractors and telescopic handlers

● make sure equipment is stopped fully before clearing blockages

● operate tractors with enclosed safety cabs or roll bars

● take care when mounting or dismounting tractors or telescopic handlers

● keep the brakes on all your machines properly maintained, especially the parking brakes

● only make sure that your tractors starter system works properly

● when pulling heavy machinery equipped with hydraulic brakes, make sure the brakes are connected to the tractor and work properly



● attempt to repair machinery if you do not have the correct tools and equipment and are not competent to do so

● run a tractor down a slope to start it

● work near overhead power lines when tipping trailers or using high reaching machinery

● check hydraulic pipes for leaks by running your finger or hand along them while they are connected and under pressure


Martin Malone, Regional Director in NFU Mutual and a member of the Farm Safety Partnership, said: “Machinery and vehicles continue to be the main causes of life changing and life ending injuries on farms, with 40% of all farm workers who have lost their lives in agriculture over the past decade being workplace machinery-vehicle related.


“The number of farmers losing their lives through farm machinery or vehicle issues continues to be a problem this year, with tragically two fatalities in the space of a week earlier this month. Farm safety training is improving across the country and the Farm Safety Partnership is continuing to communicate directly with farmers across Northern Ireland. In this fifth year of Farm Safety Week, we are, today, launching a new radio advert in relation to tractor maintenance, an important part of our ‘Stop and Think SAFE’ campaign.”


Martin Malone added: “Virtually everybody in farming knows somebody who has been injured or killed in a farming accident. Reminding farmers that farm safety is a lifestyle, not a slogan, seems like the right thing to do this week, given the culture of risk raking in the industry. One day your luck could run out. One day it could be you.


“According to American journalist Henry Mencken ‘Man is a beautiful machine that works very badly’ and unfortunately, as we have seen very recently, agricultural machinery may be advancing with safety features but it is still dangerous so please take a minute to use the SAFE STOP approach - ensure tractors, telehandlers and associated equipment is switched off when doing routine tasks or making routine checks and maintenance and take your time to think about what you are doing and what might go wrong as making a few simple checks could actually save a life – maybe your own!”


For more information on Farm Safety Week visit www.yellowwellies.org or follow @yellowwelliesUK on Twitter/Facebook using the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek


Notes to editors: 

1.For more information on the Farm Safety Partnership please contact HSENI on 0800 0320 121 or visit the FSP webpage: The Farm Safety Partnership  

2. Farm Safety Week 2017 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 reminds farmers that farm safety is a lifestyle not a slogan.

4. Farm Safety Week started in 2013 and struck a chord with the farming community with the initiative being recognised by 56% of the farming community according to recent Voice of the Farmer research*. It has grown to include England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; five nations with a single purpose; to reduce death and serious injuries in agriculture. *Voice of the Farmer interviewed a sample of 1,800 farmers across the UK in April 2017, matched to UK profile of all farms by country and farm size.

5. 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) 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.

6. 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).

7. The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body, sponsored by the Department for the Economy (DfE).

8. 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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