The licensing requirements for tractors is to be examined over the next three years by the Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee’s (FSPAC) working group on tractors and high-risk machinery.

The announcement comes as the Health and Safety Authority’s (HSA) report on work-related deaths in agriculture from 2011 to 2020 identified tractors as being responsible for 55% of work-related fatalities involving vehicles across all sectors.

In its Farm Safety Action Plan for 2021-2024, the group has said it intends to establish innovative methods for training young farmers in the use of farm vehicles, with attitude and behavioural change also suggested as key areas for the group’s investigations into reducing tractor-related farm fatalities.

Policy recommendations on the issuing of tractor licences will remain unknown until the working group meets to discuss the safety risks associated with tractors and farm machinery.

Other critical areas to receive particular attention from the expert group include livestock, farm buildings and farmer education.

The report found that over the past decade, farm safety incidents were more likely to occur during busy periods on farms, especially spring and summer months.

Another key finding was one which proved that older farmers are more likely to be killed in a farm incident.

According to the HSA’s figures, 51% of the victims of fatal farm-workplace incidents were aged 65 years or over.

The number of farm fatalities per farm worker was found to be highest in the counties of Cork and Kerry, with the border region witnessing the second highest per worker incidence of fatal farm incidents.

Under 18 years

From 2010, over two-thirds of all non-worker farm fatalities were under 18 years of age.

The HSA report determined that children spending time near agricultural work was the main contributing factor to this finding.

August and July were determined to be particularly unsafe months for children to be close to farm work.