Safe use of Tractors and Machinery on Farms” guidance document launched by Irish Minister for Business and Employment

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Figures from the Irish Health and Safety Authority (HSA) show that in the period 2005 – 2014 there have been 193 people killed in farm accidents, with 49% of those involving tractors and machinery. To date in 2015 there have been 13 farm fatalities with five deaths due to farm machinery accidents.

With the aim of encouraging the safe use of tractors, vehicles and machinery, the Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD, today (Wednesday 23 September) launched a new “Guide on the Safe use of Tractors and Machinery” at the HSA exhibit at the National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co Laois.

The extensive guide was produced with the assistance of the Farm Safety Partnership and the Road Safety Authority and is aimed at anyone who regularly operates tractors and machinery. It highlights the hazards while providing clear advice on how best to reduce the risks. Some of the topics covered are; what to ask when purchasing machinery, safety for children, working on hills and slopes, maintenance and many more aspects of using tractors and machinery in any farm setting.

Speaking about the new guide, and farm safety in general, Minister Nash said: “We have to look at the main causes of fatal and serious accidents and give farmers the tools they need to reduce risks and the subsequent tragedies. This guide is a useful tool in that important and urgent mission. I believe that change is occurring and awareness of the dangers has never been higher. This is something that I have taken a strong personal interest in.

“I am pleased that I have been able to make additional funding available to the HSA, in addition to their existing 2015 allocation, for the specific purpose of running a campaign aimed at highlighting farm safety issues. That campaign is currently running in the media but ultimately it is up to each and every farmer to make the improvements needed.”

It is estimated that roughly €500 million per year is spent on tractors and machinery with many tractors costing in excess of €50,000. However, the HSA is concerned that some farmers are failing to ensure that these investments are well maintained and safe for use.

Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority, believes that in order to reduce the numbers being killed and seriously injured on farms we must look at a number of factors.

“Many tractor and machinery related deaths are as the result of crushing injuries. However, looking past these tragic events we often see issues such as poor maintenance, low levels of training, risk taking and unguarded moving parts as being the real causes. I would encourage anyone involved in farming to go to our website and download and read this important publication.”

According to the Health and Safety Authority another quite striking area of concern is the number and severity of accidents when making or handling bales, with 12 people having lost their lives while working with bales over the last 3 years. To help Farmers and Contractors understand the risks when working with all types of bales, Minister Nash also launched a new information sheet ‘Working safely with bales on the farm’.

Copies of the new “Guide on the Safe use of Tractors and Machinery on Farms” can be downloaded for free from http://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/
Copies of the “Working safely with bales on the farm” information sheet are also available at http://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/ and from the HSA exhibit at (Block 1 Row 22 Stand 379).