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Vehicles and Machinery

HSA information on Vehicles and Machinery on Farms


Farm vehicles and machinery account for the highest proportion of farm deaths and accidents - 48% of fatalities and accidents between 1996 and 2005. The people at risk include the machine operators and people in the vicinity. The main causes of accidents involving tractors/vehicles are;

  • Being crushed
  • Being stuck
  • Being pinned under
  • Falling from the vehicle

When using tractors/vehicles:

  • Tractor maintenance: always ensure that the vehicle is in a safe working condition before use. If a tractor needs repair, do not use it until it has been fixed.
  • Hydraulic system: always examine hydraulic pipes before using hydraulic equipment. Repair or replace damaged pipes or couplings before use.
  • Using vehicles on public roads: ensure that all mirrors, indicators, lights and wipers are in working order. The vehicle should comply with the requirements of the Road Traffic Act.
  • Vehicle parking: all vehicles vary in operating procedures, however, when parking; avoid parking on slopes, apply the handbrake, stop the engine and leave the fuel-control stop in the shut-off position, lower hydraulic equipment to the ground and remove the key.
  • Safety cabs: ensure the safety cab is kept in good condition at all time.
  • Passengers: do not carry passengers unless there is an authorised passenger seat for each one. Where available, seatbelts must be worn.
  • Overturning: always take great care to ensure that the vehicle does not overturn. Assess the slope and ground conditions before doing machinery work on slopes. If a tractor is about to overturn, do not attempt to jump clear, stay in the cab and hold onto the steering wheel.
  • Trailer braking: ensure that both the tractor and trailer have effective, working brakes.

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs)

Man on an AVT wearing Safety Apperel

ATV's or quad bikes are becoming increasingly popular in farming and forestry. It is essential that you receive professional training before you use an ATV. The main causes of accidents using ATV's are:

  • The driver's lack of training or experience
  • Carrying a passenger or unbalanced load
  • Tipping on a bank
  • Steep slopes
  • Towing excessive loads with unbraked equipment

When operating an ATV:

  • never carry a passenger
  • wear a helmet and personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • regularly maintain the ATV


The main incidents involving machinery and equipment include:

  • being entangled (PTO)
  • being crushed under a machine part
  • being caught in a machine mechanism
  • being struck by a trailer or machine
  • being crushed between a vehicle and a machine
  • being struck by a flying machine-object

Electric Saw

Safety measures when operating machinery:

Machinery operation: make sure that the operator of the machine receives appropriate training.

Maintenance and adjustments: ensure that all guards and safety equipment are in place and functioning properly. Make sure that all machines are properly attached to the tractor/vehicle. When attaching the machine take the correct position to avoid getting crushed. Always stop the tractor and the machine before attempting to carry out maintenance work or to free a blockage and make sure the machine is adequately supported before carrying out any work on it.

Fixed guards: fixed guards must be kept in place.

PTO Cover

Power take-off guarding: when using PTO shafts ensure that:

  • the rotating shaft is totally enclosed by the guard and make sure that the guard matches the shaft both in length and size
  • the machine end, o-guard, and the tractor-end, u-guard, are in place
  • the PTO shaft is greased regularly
  • the tractor tyres or drawbar pins do not damage the guard.

Lifting Equipment: ensure that lifting equipment such as forklift truck, telehandler or tractor loader is regularly maintained in order to prevent accidents due to collapse.

Further Information