As part of Farm Safety Week, each day we will be highlighting farm safety tips in the hopes of raising awareness and reducing the number of accidents on Irish farms.
Farming has one of the poorest safety records of any employment sector in Ireland. So far this year, 13 people have lost their lives in farm accidents.
Farm vehicles and machinery are by far the largest cause of deaths and accidents on Irish farms, accounting for 13 of 24 fatalities in 2017. With 67% of deaths due to tractors and farm vehicles between 2008 and 2017, a result of being crushed/trapped.
“Farm vehicles and machinery are a huge safety risk factor in July and into the autumn period due to high vehicle and machinery movement with harvesting activities and the fact that children are on holidays,” highlighted Teagasc safety specialist, Dr John McNamara, this week.
Today’s farm safety article will outline good-practice tips from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) for operating farm vehicles.
Recognise the risk situations
- Maintenance: Keep tractors and farm vehicles maintained with adequate rollover protection;
- Young children: Should NOT be there. Keep them away from tractors and machinery;
- Young males: Work under supervision. Ensure adequate training and machine familiarity and suitability;
- When tired: The only cure for fatigue is rest. Organise more drivers. Take adequate rest breaks;
- Unguarded moving parts/power drives: Make sure to cover them fully;
- Around the yard: Slow down. No children. Take care with hitching/unhitching and reversing. Use axle stands and prop hydraulics before getting under raised loads;
- On hills: Always assess the slope and ground conditions before commencing work. Slow down. Experienced drivers only. Maximise traction and controlled braking. Avoid wet slippery surfaces. STOP if feeling uncertain;
- On roads: Do not speed. Let traffic through. Be highly visible. Mark wide loads. Secure loads;
- When rushing: Plan your work. Allow enough time. Do NOT take chances or shortcuts.
All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) safety tips
Dr John McNamara also noted that 15% of farm accidents and deaths in 2017 were due to ATVs.
- Professional training is essential before using an ATV;
- Never carry a passenger on an ATV;
- ATV speed needs to be contained;
- A safety-certified helmet must be worn at all times when operating an ATV;
- Consider the risk of overturning. ATV roll bars are now available to purchase;
- Many ATVs have no differential, so the vehicle speed and placing of your body weight is crucial for safe cornering.
Kerrie Leonard was just six-years-old when her life changed forever. She was out on her family farm, in the tractor cab, when she lost her grip and fell from the tractor. The wheel crushed her, leaving her paralyzed. Kerrie's message for parents is to be aware of all the dangers on the farm.
You have no chance against the weight and power of the tractor or other farm vehicles and machinery. Take action to prevent accidents with tractors and machinery.Additional reading on the safe operation of tractors and farm vehicles can be found on the Health and Safety Authority website.