There is a need for basic ground rules around tractor driving

FRS urges Tipperary farmers to consider doing skills course

Tipperary Star reporter


Tipperary Star reporter


There is a need for basic ground rules around tractor driving

FRS is encouraging Tipperary farmers to consider doing skills course

The recent trend of filming dangerous stunts on the farm for social media has given rise to fresh concerns that farmers, farm workers and machinery operators are putting themselves and others at risk of accidents that could easily become fatal.

Statistics show that tractors are the number one cause of farm accidents resulting in farm fatalities.

In total, farm vehicles account for 31% of fatal accidents. These include the use of tractors, loaders, teleporters, ATV quad bikes and the farm vehicle such as a Jeep.

Coupled then with the farm implements and machinery like balers, mowers, toppers, diet feeders, slurry tankers etc the risk is even greater. In the last 10 years, farm machinery caused 19% of fatal accidents.

When we combine both tractors, vehicles and machinery they account for 50% of fatal farm accidents. Very often the accident is caused by drivers, with lack of awareness, losing control, unfamiliarity with controls, excessive or incorrect speed cited as factors.

With summer approaching and young workers becoming available for seasonal work, we encourage farmers and contractors to discuss basic ground rules with workers and to ensure that they are aware of health and safety procedures on the farm, in fields and on the road.

Below we have outlined some guidelines for farmers and contractors to follow when employing labour directly for tractor and machinery work:

- Check the drivers experience with farm machinery and look for references

- Ensure you take the time to go through an induction and health and safety training. Ask them to sign an attendance sheet if external training days are required

- Train staff on specific work types required regardless of experience

- Check their driving licence and hold a copy on file. Check for any penalty points

- Provide staff with a contract of employment and get them to sign it

- Be aware that you are obliged to supply staff with the relevant PPE.

- When you provide machinery and equipment to a driver you must ensure it is safe to operate and be compliant with relevant legislation

- It is the farmer/contractors responsibility to ensure that their machines are tested, and certificates are valid

- No one should be asked to operate a machine unless all guards are in place such as PTO covers etc. It is negligent to do so

- If a driver is required to carry out daily checks on tractors and machinery, ensure you demonstrate exactly what is required

- Inform the driver when you want the maintenance checks of machinery and vehicles

- Supervise new and young drivers until you are sure that they are competent

- You need to provide staff with a mobile phone policy for your farm or work and get them to sign it.
Driver responsibilities

- Using a mobile phone while driving is not only dangerous, it is illegal

- Any breach of safety with regards to misbehaviour at their work with vehicles or farm machinery could result in immediate termination of the contract. Disciplinary measures should be clearly stated in the contract of employment

- Drivers that are employed are governed by the Working Time Act and are entitled to the recommended breaks

- Lunch arrangements should be agreed as part of employment contract and staff must be allowed enough time to have meals

- Drivers need to know that they are responsible when driving and always need to be in full control of their vehicles, this includes driving on the road as well as the yard

- Drivers must take due care when driving so not to block roads unnecessarily

- Drivers need to remember that they are the ones that will be answerable to the Gardai, HSA and other relevant authorities if there is any accident or incident involving their driving-

- If the machine is deemed to be defective then the responsibility rests fully with the owner.

FRS Training provides a Safe Tractor Driving Skills Course. The course has proven extremely popular over the years and is recommended for any driver, can be run for groups of farmers, farm workers or indeed secondary school students.

Contact us in advance to book a course for your group, which will be back up and running once Covid-19 guidelines allow.

Visit our FRS Training website, for more information on Farm Safety courses and to register your interest for future dates or call 1980-201000.