In 2022, we have already had a death and one very serious incident involving people riding on trailers behind farm vehicles, such as tractors and utes.
Most trailers are designed to carry produce and equipment, not people. This means that there is a higher risk of roll-over and run-over for people when riding on trailers.
People should not ride on trailers. Where an employer provides a trailer or towed attachment for moving people, the employer must ensure:
- it is designed to move people in a way that is safe and without risk to health, and
- the safety equipment provides the rider with the same level of protection as the operator of the vehicle towing the trailer (such as roll-over protection, seats, seat belts, falling object protection)
Picture 1 – People riding on fruit harvest trailer with a cross to indicate do not ride on trailers.
Picture 2 – Fruit harvest trailer with no people riding on trailer with tick to indicate that trailers should not carry passengers.
Controlling the risk
Before you start working with trailers on a farm, ask yourself the following:
- Can the task be done differently so that I do not need to use a trailer?
- Can I use a ute or truck instead? This removes the chance of a person being run over by a trailer or attachment.
- Can I move people around the farm another way, like with a mini bus?
- Can the trailer and/or towed equipment be designed so that people cannot ride on them, like by eliminating flat areas on a fruit picking trailer where a person could stand or sit
- Can the trailer and any towed equipment be designed so a passenger has the same protection as the vehicle operator does? For example, planting machines.
Picture 3 - Trailer modified to include a rollover protective structure, seats and seatbelts to carry passengers.
Picture 4 – Mini-van to carry passengers from block to block that is fitted with seat belts
You must always provide appropriate information, instruction, training or supervision to your employees. This could include providing employees with instruction and training, or supervision on:
- the risks of riding on tractors, trailers or equipment that are not designed to move people, and
- using safer ways to move people around the farm, like vehicles such as mini buses or cars
Picture 5 - Person riding on the A frame of a water tank trailer with a cross, showing the need for training of staff.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, employers must, so far as is reasonably practicable:
- provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees. This includes identifying risks to health or safety in the use of vehicles, trailers, quad bikes, etc, and eliminating those risks or reducing them so far as is reasonably practicable. 'Employees' includes independent contractors and labour hire workers, and
- ensure that persons other than employees of the employer, for example visitors or members of the public, are not exposed to risks to their health or safety from the conduct of the undertaking of the employer
Employers and self-employed persons also have duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017, Part 3.5 – Plant Regulations. Please see the Plant, Compliance Code for further information on duties relating to plant.