A two-week national inspection campaign with a focus on the safe use of tractors and quads on farms will begin on Monday 18 April, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has announced.

The HSA has said it remains concerned with safety issues around farm vehicles in Ireland. As a result, specific focus is being placed on tractors and quad bikes (ATVs) as they continue to be the leading cause of vehicle-related fatality on Irish farms.

In the five-year period 2017 to 2021 there were 40 vehicle-related fatalities on Irish farms and of these fatalities, 21 involved tractors and seven involved quad bikes (ATVs).

It said that of the seven quad bike fatalities, two involved children and five involved people over 60. Of the 21 farm fatalities involving tractors, 12 involved people aged 65 or over.

Busy season

Pat Griffin, senior inspector with the HSA, said the campaign is being run to encourage farmers to take time to plan for the safe use of tractors and machinery ahead of the busy silage harvesting season.

“We urge farmers to plan ahead this year and make sure they themselves and all workers or contractors have the necessary skills and competence to do the job safely. Safe systems of work that minimise risk must be planned and followed by all involved.

“Training must take place if it hasn’t already, particularly for new operators, to ensure the safe use of machinery. The condition of the machinery is also vital and any required maintenance should be addressed now well in advance of use, particularly to steering and braking systems,” he said.

The majority of injuries and fatalities with tractors or farm machinery involve a combination of unplanned maintenance procedures, operator error, lack of training and the presence of children/elderly near work activity.