News & Events

Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash TD launches “Safe use of Tractors and Machinery on Farms” Guidance Document

Figures from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) show that in the period 2005 – 2014 there have been 193 people killed in farm accidents, with 49% of those involving tractors and machinery. To date in 2015 there have been 13 farm fatalities with five deaths due to farm machinery accidents.

With the aim of encouraging the safe use of tractors, vehicles and machinery, the Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD, today (Wednesday 23 September) launched a new “Guide on the Safe use of Tractors and Machinery” at the HSA exhibit at the National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co Laois.

The extensive guide was produced with the assistance of the Farm Safety Partnership and the Road Safety Authority and is aimed at anyone who regularly operates tractors and machinery. It highlights the hazards while providing clear advice on how best to reduce the risks. Some of the topics covered are; what to ask when purchasing machinery, safety for children, working on hills and slopes, maintenance and many more aspects of using tractors and machinery in any farm setting.

Speaking about the new guide, and farm safety in general, Minister Nash said, “We have to look at the main causes of fatal and serious accidents and give farmers the tools they need to reduce risks and the subsequent tragedies. This guide is a useful tool in that important and urgent mission. I believe that change is occurring and awareness of the dangers has never been higher. This is something that I have taken a strong personal interest in.

“I am pleased that I have been able to make additional funding available to the HSA, in addition to their existing 2015 allocation, for the specific purpose of running a campaign aimed at highlighting farm safety issues. That campaign is currently running in the media but ultimately it is up to each and every farmer to make the improvements needed”.

It is estimated that roughly €500 million per year is spent on tractors and machinery with many tractors costing in excess of €50,000. However, the HSA is concerned that some farmers are failing to ensure that these investments are well maintained and safe for use.

Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority, believes that in order to reduce the numbers being killed and seriously injured on farms we must look at a number of factors. “Many tractor and machinery related deaths are as the result of crushing injuries. However, looking past these tragic events we often see issues such as poor maintenance, low levels of training, risk taking and unguarded moving parts as being the real causes. I would encourage anyone involved in farming to go to our website and download and read this important publication”.

According to the Health and Safety Authority another quite striking area of concern is the number and severity of accidents when making or handling bales, with 12 people having lost their lives while working with bales over the last 3 years. To help Farmers and Contractors understand the risks when working with all types of bales, Minister Nash also launched a new information sheet ‘Working safely with bales on the farm’.

The new Guide on the Safe use of Tractors and Machinery on Farms

The Working safely with bales on the farm information sheet


For further information contact Mark Ryan, HSA Press Officer, (086) 803 6141


Agriculture Fatalities

  • Statistics from the Health and Safety Authority show that you are [1]8 times more likely to die working on a farm in Ireland than in the general working population.
  • While the Agriculture sector represents approximately 6% of the working population it consistently has the highest proportion of fatal incidents of any sector generally ranging between 35% and 45% of all workplace fatalities in any given year. This was evidenced again in 2014 where 54% (30 of the 56) of the fatal workplace incidents were in the Agriculture sector.

Reasons for high fatality rate in Sector

  • Many fatalities occur when farmers are doing jobs that are not part of their normal working day, for example maintenance or adjustment of equipment, maintaining or working on a building
  • A culture of risk taking with the priority only on getting the job doneMixture of large machinery, unpredictable animals and long hours working outdoors in difficult conditions
  • Rushing and trying to do too much in a day
  • Fatality rate is higher for self-employed workers regardless of sector as there is no outside day to day supervision
  • Farm is a home as well as a workplace which places family members at risk

Practical advice for farmers

  • Plan work with safety as a priority
  • Be careful and have the right equipment when moving round bales as there have been a significant number of fatalities involving these bales
  • Be aware how winter weather can make working on land more hazardous
  • Keep a charged mobile phone with you at all times
  • Wear Hi-Viz clothing
  • Wear appropriate footwear
  • Take particular care when working at height which can be even more dangerous in winter


In recent years 20 people, on average, have been killed each year in farm related workplace incidents, with 193 farming fatalities in the last decade (2005 – 2014). Last year was particularly tragic with 30 fatalities on Irish farms, the highest since 1993.

This is of great concern to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), its Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) and the wider farming community.

The Ploughing Championships represents a major opportunity to influence farmers, farm families and others who work in agriculture and forestry. We want to encourage them to work safely and reduce deaths and serious injuries in this high risk work sector.

Those visiting our stand will have the opportunity to view a number of safety demos and speak to safety professionals from across the agricultural sector. Also our farm safety inspectors will be available to help visitors update their knowledge on farm safety and health.

Key Objectives/Messages

  • Encourage all involved in the farming community to make farm safety and health a real priority for themselves, their family and the sector in general
  • Encourage farmers to complete and use the Code of Practice either hard copy or the On-line version
  • Encourage farmers to attend training courses on the Code of Practice and other training courses, for example, tractor driving skills, use of Quads, in livestock handling and chainsaws on the farm
  • Encourage farmers to be more aware of the risks associated with farm vehicles and to be proactive on tractor safety
  • Encourage farmers to manage safety and health as an essential part of their farm business
  • Encourage farmers to take part in at least one farm safety meeting by participating in Discussion Groups or Knowledge Transfer Groups
  • Advise farmers on the availability of grant aid for farm safety improvement through the TAMS schemes
  • Promote greater use of the Agriculture pages on the HSA website
  • Key Message – Know the risks and protect yourself, your children and wider family through the Safe use of Tractors and Machinery on the farm
  • The 2013 fatal accident rate in agriculture is 15.9 compared with an average of 2.1 fatalities per 100,000 workers across the general working population.