As we are currently in Covid 19 times, many people have chosen to return to the family home under the Government guidelines. We are aware that many students and extended family may have returned to the family farm with the intention of helping with the busy Spring and Summer workload.
Often, those returning home may be classified as inexperienced and may not be familiar with the tasks they are completing, including operating farm machinery.
According to the Health and Safety Authority (HAS), farming remains the most dangerous sector in Ireland with 18 fatalities occurring in 2019. These statistics show a 20% increase in farm accidents from the previous year. Incidents with tractors or other farmyard machinery account for the most frequent cause of farm workplace accidents.
Accidents involving tractors and machinery result in far more deaths and severe injuries than other farm accidents. The vast majority of serious tractor accidents are caused because of inexperienced operators, speed, lack of concentration, gradient, unguarded parts and the poor mechanical condition of the tractor.
It is important to put safety first and take the necessary precautions when it comes to tractor driving.
Here are the top ten tips for safe tractor operation:
- Daily checks: It is always important to carry out daily checks on your tractor before you drive it to ensure everything is in working order. Make sure the tractor is in safe operating condition. Check the lights are working, keep steps clean at all times for access and check the PTO and lift arm controls.
- Safe stop procedure: Always practice the Safe Stop procedure. Cut back the throttle in good time, wait until the tractor has slowed down sufficiently, press clutch pedal, apply brakes gradually, always park in a suitable location, stop the engine and apply the handbrake, lower all hydraulically mounted equipment and finally remove the key.
- Safe tractor position method: Carry out the Safe Tractor Position Method. When getting in and out of the tractor always use access steps and hand supports, adjust seat position to operate controls comfortably and adjust mirror for clear view.
- Keep tractor clear of hazards: Always keep floors, doors, pedals clear and keep your boots clean. Do not keep items like tools, draw bar pins, ropes etc on the cab floor as these cause easy distraction when driving and can cause accidents.
- Be aware of all blind spots: When driving ensure that there is nobody near you before starting the engine, always watch out for people, obstacles and blind spots. Take time to clean windows and mirrors for visibility and always check that the brakes are locked together.
- Take your time and be aware: When driving never move the tractor off until you are fully aware of how all controls operate and where they are. Take your time and never rush when operating the tractor. Use the throttle-correct procedure for slowing down, when reversing use mirrors and use the horn to warn bystanders. Lower your gears gradually when preparing to stop.
- Use the correct hitch system: When hitching always make sure you use the right hitch system. Only use the controls from tractor seat and never stand between the tractor and other machines or behind them. Never stand with your feet under or near drawbars and ensure that jacks, skids and other supports are used and maintained.
- Experience is necessary when handling the tractor: It is advisable to have inexperienced people supervised when hitching and unhitching trailers and implements. Never get between a hydraulically mounted machine and the tractor or place your feet under parts that can collapse e.g. a drawbar.
- Always check the terrain: When in the tractor and carrying out work always make sure the terrain over which the tractor is driven is free from hazards such as steep slopes or excavations.
- Beware of danger from overhead lines: Tractors or machinery should never be operated if a danger from overhead electricity lines exists.
Safe Tractor Driving Skills
Farmers and farm workers need to take action in order to prevent accidents with tractors and machinery. FRS Training runs a Safe Tractor Driving Skills Course which is sponsored by FBD trust.
The course has proven extremely popular over the years and is suitable for groups and secondary school students. Contact us in advance to book a course for your group, which will be back up and running once Covid guidelines allow.
The main focus of the course is to teach young people how to operate and drive a tractor safely, with practical instruction being a key component of the training. The course covers PTO shaft safety, safe tractor control procedures, trailed equipment and safe tractor operations, and brings the awareness of safety back to the farm.
Contact FRS Training
Visit our FRS Training website, www.frstraining.com for more information on Farm Safety courses and to register your interest for future dates or call 1980 20 1000.
This article was written by a member of FRS.