Tractor safety

by Andy Bryenton

WorkSafe is warning farmers that they are legally required to have an effective way of identifying and managing the risks involving the use and maintenance of vehicles used on their farms.

This warning follows the sentencing last month of a Wellsford farmer after a worker on his farm was killed in a tractor incident in 2016. The worker was driving a tractor and towing a trailer carrying two bails of baleage when he lost traction on a slope. The tractor and trailer jack-knifed, resulting in the tractor rolling and fatally injuring the driver.

WorkSafe’s head of specialist interventions, Simon Humphries, said the case highlighted the need for farmers to have a health and safety system on the farm.

“It’s not about adding paperwork or having more work to do,” he said. “It’s about incorporating what you do every day and ensuring that everyone can head home at the end of the day healthy and safe.”

Unfortunately, not everybody has managed to do that. WorkSafe reports that on average six to seven farmers are killed every year when using farm tractors.

There have been 30 tractor-related deaths in the last six years. Many hundreds more have been seriously injured.

The majority of injuries involving tractors are caused by the tractors rolling over or people getting tangled in implements and machinery.

WorkSafe points out that there are heavy penalties for failure to follow safety regulations — in the Wellsford case, the farmer was fined $75,000 and ordered to pay $130,000 in reparation.

However, prevention and the adoption of accepted good practice are obviously preferable, WorkSafe said.

WorkSafe offers a comprehensive guide to tractor safety on their website.

Amongst the website recommendations are thorough training for all tractor drivers, supervision of inexperienced drivers, not carrying passengers on tractors and always wearing a seatbelt if the tractor has a roll-over protective structure (ROPS).

The guide also covers accepted good practice on and around farm machinery, the law as it to relates health and safety, and health and safety requirements including farmer’s responsibilities.

The website address is saferfarms.org.nz.