30 June 2000

Crackdown on safety for Jap tractor imports

FARMERS who buy second-hand tractors imported from Japan will face hefty fines if the machines are in breach of UK health and safety law, the Health and Safety Executive has warned.

The HSE is worried that there is an increasing "grey" market in imported tractors which do not comply with UK safety standards. The current exchange rate and increased use of the internet has made such purchases look attractive.

Greg Bunbay, head of the HSE Agriculture and Wood Sector warned that many of the tractors were not fitted with an approved cab or roll bar.

"If farmers allow their employees to use tractors that do not have approved frames when they should have, they will be breaking the law," he said.

The imports include well-known makes such as Kubota, Shibaura, Iseki, Hinomoto, Sato and Yanmar.

Other hazards

The HSE is warning that there are other safety hazards connected with the imported tractors. The machines have no instruction booklets and all control markings and warning stickers are in Japanese. And in some cases it has also been reported that the power takeoff shafts rotate in the opposite direction to UK and EU approved tractors.

The maximum fine for an offence under the tractor cab regulations is £5000 in a magistrates court and unlimited in a higher court. The maximum fine for offences under the health and safety at work act is £20,000 in a magistrates court and unlimited in a higher court.