Contractors from around the country have condemned the Health and Safety Authority’s (HSA) suggestion that tachographs in tractors could prevent fatalities during the silage season.
Senior inspector with the HSA Pat Griffin told the Irish Farmers Journal that a requirement for tractors drawing silage during the summer to be fitted with a tachograph, similar to those in buses and trucks, is worth consideration in the fight to prevent machinery-related fatalities.
Contractors argue that tachographs are not a viable option due to the short window in which the silage harvest must take place.
The Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) said it is not aware of any moves or any consultation process to introduce tachographs to agricultural tractors in Ireland.
FCI told the Irish Farmers Journal that it does not see any reason to change the current regulation, while more emphasis should be put on a tractor driving training structure for all agricultural college students.
‘Red tape never solved anything’ – Eoin Coffey, Enfield, Co Meath
“Tractor drivers and all workers deserve rights but we need to weigh up the situation. Tachographs will do nothing but bring in more red tape and that hasn’t solved anything in the past.
“I was the youngest of nine children and got my licence at 16. I’m a third-generation contractor and my grandfather started the business when he was 21.”
Nurture the youth
“As we speak, my 14-year-old son is in the field with me tilling away. We need to nurture the youth. I’m not rearing my son to go work for big companies like Google. I’m rearing them to work for themselves and for the benefit of rural Ireland.
“You can’t expect for these young lads to be kept in their mother’s apron strings.
“We need to educate younger people about the danger of weight when drawing silage. There’s a big difference between a full and empty trailer.”
‘Other road users must be more considerate during silage season’ – James Fitzgerald, Tralee, Co Kerry
“The bulk of the silage season comes down to roughly three or four weeks of the summer. The rest of the year we work normal hours.
“You have to go with the good weather in June and, unfortunately, this is out of our control. A lot of the problems would be with tractors with 50km boxes.
“The tractors are continually getting bigger while the roads remain the same size.
“The overall standard of driving on rural roads has to be brought into question also. Cars and other road users need to be more considerate of contractors during silage season and understand that it only lasts for a few short weeks during the summer.
“Tachographs won’t prevent fatalities. A lot of these incidents are caused by people getting too familiar with the machine. They become complacent and take chances.”
‘A tachograph would result in another contractor expense’ – Michael Barrett, Newcastlewest, Co Limerick
“Silage will always be a rush job by its nature. A tachograph would result in another contractor expense on the farmer.
“Who is going to pay for it only the farmer?
“We’d have to more or less double our drivers, who already can be difficult to source.
“The cost of silage harvesting would double.
“I do think the age limits should be up and perhaps limit the weight in trailers.
“The trailer weighs 5t and a full load makes it 15t altogether.
“It’s a novelty for these lads when they are young and, of course, there is a lack of experience there.
“I think young drivers shouldn’t be allowed their phone in the cab at all. The phone is the biggest danger, nearly worse than fatigue.”