In this video, Sean talks about and shows the injuries received when a combine harvester fell on him.

In this video, David talks about how the tractor he was driving ran over him leaving him in a wheelchair.

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Tractors are potentially lethal and accidents involving tractors account for a very high proportion of all farm accidents each year. Ensure that:

  • the tractor is maintained in good working condition
  • a cab or safety frame is fitted
  • all controls are in good working order and clearly marked
  • brakes are checked regularly and are always in sound working condition
  • all relevant guards are in place and that PTO and Hydraulics are functioning correctly
  • mirrors, lights and wipers are in working order at all times
  • the tractor is always parked safely
  • the guidance in the operator's manual is followed and operate the tractor in a safe manner


Tractor maintenance

  • A cab or safety frame to OECD standards must be fitted. Look for corrosion on frames of older tractors
  • Always ensure that the tractor can be started by the key and that the engine-stop control is effective
  • The vehicle controls should all be in working order and clearly marked. A tidy cab allows safe and easy use of the controls
  • Ensure that the cab floor is kept clear to allow safe use of brakes and clutch
  • Brakes should be in good working order, balanced and interlocked, except when being used for field work
  • A properly functioning handbrake is essential
  • Ensure that the power take-off (PTO) can be turned on and off correctly, and that the PTO shield is kept in place at all times
  • The hitch points of both tractor and trailer must not be worn
  • Do not leave the tractor seat while the engine is running
  • Maintain all tractor components, including hydraulics, u-guard and hitches

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Hydraulic Systems

  • Examine hydraulic pipes before using hydraulic equipment. Repair or replace damaged pipes or couplings before use
  • Never place a finger near any leak in a hydraulic hose pipe, no matter how small the leak. This is likely to cause infection and possibly the loss of a limb
  • Seek immediate medical assistance if even the smallest amount of oil is forced under the skin

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  • Follow the instructions in the operator's handbook
  • Stop the engine and leave the fuel-control stop in the shut-off position
  • Apply the hand brake securely
  • Park on level ground where possible. Leave the vehicle in gear. If on a slope, use the reverse gear if facing downhill and low forward gear if facing uphill
  • Use wheel stops if necessary to prevent a vehicle rolling from its parked position
  • Lower hydraulic implements and loaders to the ground
  • Remove the key if there is a risk of the vehicle being started by an unauthorised person

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Driving on slopes

  • If you use tractors or equipment on slopes, carefully assess the risk of overturning
  • Always assess the slope and ground conditions before commencing work
  • Consider if it is worth taking the risk of operating on sloping ground
  • Make sure you are familiar with the slope. Walk the slope before driving on it
  • Use a four-wheel-drive tractor
  • Select the right gear before approaching the slope, to avoid gear change on the slope
  • Use engine braking when you drive down a slope
  • Keep as much weight uphill as possible
  • Turn uphill if working across a slope
  • Avoid quick, sharp turns
  • If a tractor is about to overturn, do not attempt to jump clear. Stay in the cab and hold on to the steering wheel

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All-terrain vehicles (ATVs)

  • Consider the risk of overturning on sloping ground
  • Professional training is essential before using an ATV
  • Never carry a passenger on an ATV
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including a helmet


ATVs require on-going maintenance as specified by the manufacturer. Check, in particular, that:

  • tyre pressures are correct
  • brakes give a straight stop
  • the throttle operates smoothly in all steering positions
  • Many ATVs have no differential, so the vehicle speed and placing of your body weight is crucial for safe cornering.
  • An Information Sheet on the safe use of ATVs in agriculture and forestry is available

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Vehicle Checks

  • Cab/Roll bar in good condition
  • U guard is in place to cover the PTO stub
  • All controls in working order and clearly marked/ understood
  • Brakes in good working order and adequate for the work
  • Handbrake fully operational
  • Mirrors, lights, indicators and wipers functioning, clean and visible
  • All hitching equipment free of defects
  • All visible defects identified and rectified

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Fatal Accidents

Farm vehicles and machinery account for the highest proportion of farm deaths and accidents. People at risk include vehicle or machine operators and others in the vicinity.


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