Over half of farm workers killed in vehicle-related accidents crushed to death, HSA study shows

More than half of farm workers killed while operating tractors or other work vehicles are crushed to death, a study by the Health and Safety Authority shows.

Over half of farm workers killed in vehicle-related accidents crushed to death, HSA study shows

More than half of farm workers killed while operating tractors or other work vehicles are crushed to death, a study by the Health and Safety Authority shows.

Vehicles and machinery are the main cause of farm accidents in Ireland and in the past 10 years they accounted for approximately 50% of all farm deaths, with elderly farmers and children being most at risk.

Being crushed, struck, pinned under or falling from vehicles are the main causes of deaths involving farm vehicles, according to the HSA.

It today began an intensive inspection campaign with a focus on the safe use of tractors and machinery on farms.

Over the last 10 years, (2009 – 2018) more than half (51%) of all fatal farm injuries involved vehicles (30%) and machinery (21%).

Farm vehicles are generally defined as tractors, loaders or quad bikes. In recent years there has been a sharp increase in the number of fatalities involving farm vehicles, particularly quad bikes with four related deaths in 2017 alone.

According to Pat Griffin, Senior Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority:

“We’re running this inspection campaign earlier this year to give farmers plenty of time to plan for the safe use of tractors and machinery ahead of the busy silage harvesting season.

Our message is clear, advance preparation and formal training is the key to working safely with machinery on farms.

"Farmers must make sure they have the necessary skills and competence to do the job safely.

"The condition of the machinery is also vital and any required maintenance should be addressed without delay."

The majority of accidents with tractors or machinery involve a combination of poor planning, operator error, lack of training, maintenance issues or the presence of children/elderly near work activity.

The HSA says farmers need to consider:

  • - Has the work activity been planned in advance?
  • - Has the driver or operator received formal training?
  • - Are handbrakes or parking brakes working properly?
  • - Are cabs and doors in good condition?
  • - Are tractor mirrors set and maintained correctly?
  • - Is work organised to avoid the presence of young children or other vulnerable individuals such as elderly family members?

Mr. Griffin added:

“I would urge all farmers to complete the new Farm Risk Assessment document available through www.farmsafely.com which has a dedicated “harvesting” checklist to help identify any necessary improvements."

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