WorkSafe Victoria has issued an urgent call for renewed vigilance by the farming community following the deaths of two men working with tractors on Sunday.
One man was run over by a tractor on a private property at Phillip Island, while a mechanic was run over by a tractor at his workshop near Edenhope.
The Executive Director of Health and Safety, Len Neist, said tractors were an integral part of country life but they needed to be treated with care.
“In less than 12 months, there have been six fatalities in regional Victoria that have involved tractors,” Mr Neist said. “In five of those fatalities, the operators have been run over by their tractor.”
Mr Neist said that tractors pose the same risks to farmers running a business as they do to farmers running hobby farms or families owning a 2ha lifestyle block.
“Older tractors may have more maintenance issues than current models, but it is the operator’s commitment to safety that determines its potential dangers,” Mr Neist said. “The best maintained tractor in the world will still harm you if you are using it for the wrong purpose or if your systems of work don’t ensure safety.”
Mr Neist said tractor operators needed to make safety a regular part of their daily planning.
“For example, make sure the hand and foot brakes are regularly serviced and maintained as they are critical to controlling the tractor when pulling loads, moving about your property or merely getting off the vehicle,” he said. “Make sure tractor loads are not exceeded, and that any attachments are used solely for the purpose that the manufacturer intended.”
Mr Neist said every workplace was different and all reasonably practicable steps had to be taken to ensure risks were controlled.
“But taking just five minutes to inspect your tractor before the day’s work gets under way could save you – or your family – a lifetime of grief,” he said.
TRACTOR SAFETY CHECKLIST
OPERATOR CONTROLS: Check steering, brakes, park brake for proper operation. Ensure hand controls are labelled and all safety interlocks are operational.
GUARDS: Replace guards that may have been removed for maintenance including those fitted to attachments.
LIGHTS: Check that headlights, work lights and warning devices are operational.
LOAD CAPACITY: Ensure tractor load capacity is not exceeded when fitting attachment and/or towing.
POWER TAKE-OFF: Check PTO master guard and PTO shaft guard are fitted and in good condition.
ROPS: Check ROPS is securely fitted and has not sustained any structural damage that could make it defective.
FAULTS: If any faults are identified that result in unsafe equipment do not operate it until the fault is repaired or rectified.
This pre-operational check does not replace a thorough risk assessment of all operations and does not include all hazards related to tractor use.
Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email email@example.com or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.