More focus on tractor safety

A farmer on a vegetable farm at Pearcedale in Melbourne’s south-east is lucky to be alive after being run over by a tractor at the weekend.
News article published

Tuesday 23 Aug 2011

Industries and topics
  • Agriculture

The tractor was moving slowly when the 49-year-old stepped off to check seed dispensers, but it appears he slipped on the step and was run over by the tractor which weighed nearly three tonnes.

While the tractor’s back wheel went over him, the man appears to have escaped serious injuries because the ground was relatively soft and he was pushed into it. He was able to call for help quickly because he had his phone on him.

It was the second serious incident involving a tractor in Victoria in a matter of days.

A man was trapped under a rolled tractor south of Ballarat for 18 hours before he was rescued last Wednesday morning. His machine did not have rollover protection, although it has been compulsory for all tractors in Victoria, including those in non-workplaces, since the early 1980s.

“These incidents are stark illustrations of how simple safety measures can make a difference,” Director of WorkSafe‘s Manufacturing Logistics and Agriculture division, Ross Pilkington, said.

“It is only good luck that both these men did not suffer more serious injuries or were killed.

“Tractors are found on probably every farm in the state as well as many hobby farms and small holdings which are not workplaces.

“Unless tractors are properly equipped, maintained and great care is taken with them, they can be dangerous and potentially deadly.

“This applies whether the operators have been using them for decades or if they’re a non-farmer with small holdings and who use them occasionally to help with work on their property.  

”These two incidents and last Thursday’s death of a 17-year-old in northern Victoria should prompt anyone working on a Victorian farm to look at what they do or what they expect others to do.

“Tractor safety is not that hard and farming is not intrinsically dangerous, but it requires focus and an understanding of what can go wrong whether you’ve done the job once or a thousand times.

“If you haven’t been hurt before, you may have been on borrowed time.”

Mr Pilkington said while machinery like tractors helped get work done more quickly, the trade–off was that the risks associated with more power or speed had to be controlled.

“When something goes wrong there’s little opportunity to stop it. That’s why people must be trained and competent to use the equipment, understand the risks and control them,” he said.

“Even then, having a phone with you or letting someone know where you are working and when you’re due home can result in help getting to you if something goes wrong. 

“There is nothing wrong with ringing someone a couple of times a day and before work to say where you’ll be so that people can at least know where to start the search.”