Accidents involving farm machinery and vehicles cause numerous injuries and fatalities. The majority of these could be prevented by taking the proper precautions.
For more information on safety when using vehicles on your land, see our guide on vehicles and machinery on farms.
Purchasing your machines
Regulations require that all machinery, vehicles and equipment must be safe to use with the dangerous parts properly guarded. They must also be suitable for the tasks they’ll be used for.
When you purchase a machine, it should carry a ‘CE’ mark. This shows that the vehicle has been built to the minimum legal safety requirements. You should also receive a ‘certificate of conformity’ that also confirms safety requirements.
You should also receive its operator’s manual, a workshop manual and details on noise levels. If noise levels exceed the legal limits, then properly fitted ear protection should be provided. All of these fall within the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98).
Using your machines
When using your farm machinery and vehicles, you must be sure that they are always well maintained, repaired and in good working order. Regular maintenance checks should be carried out according to the individual manufacturers’ guidelines.
To help avoid farming accidents involving vehicles, machinery or other equipment, it is recommended that you keep them well maintained and repaired at all times. Seatbelts (or lap belts) should be worn to prevent you from being thrown from the vehicle. You should also not carry any loose tools in the vehicle cab, as these can be dangerous in the event of a crash.
Vehicle and machinery parts can cause damage if not properly maintained or regularly replaced. Many farm machines have dangerous parts such as drive shafts, belts, pulleys, augers, conveyors and other moving components which cut, chop or process materials. These can cause severe injuries if people come into contact with them, so it is essential that they are properly guarded. Machines should always be made safe before attempting to deal with blockages or other problems.
Training in how to operate equipment safely, the use of personal protective equipment and the procedures required to work safely is vital. It is also a legal requirement.
Recognised standards of formal training and/or competence are normally required for using chainsaws, tree work, applying pesticides, riding all-terrain vehicles, operating fork lift trucks and telescopic materials handlers, sheep dipping and first aid.
A good basic knowledge of typical farm hazards, risks and control measures, and an understanding of how to undertake risk assessments properly, are just some of the topics covered by health and safety vocational qualifications specific to farming and horticulture. These nationally recognised qualifications are available at three academic levels and are supported by a range of training courses and learning materials.
Lantra is the Skills Sector Council for environmental and land-based industries in the UK. You can search for agricultural training courses on the Lantra website – Opens in a new window.
The National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC) is an awarding body for the agricultural sector. They offer training for vocational qualifications such as NVQs in a range of subjects including proper manual handling and use of dangerous tools such as chainsaws. You can find a list of courses on the NPTC website – Opens in a new window.