31 July 1998

Death sparks call for trailer safety

THE death of his nephew has driven a Welsh farmer to urge the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to press trailer manufacturers to design a swivel type drawbar that will allow a trailer to topple over without turning the tractor.

Dylan Roberts, Hendre, Mold, made the plea at the Royal Welsh Show, after his 15-year-old nephew was killed while gaining work experience on the farm.

Speaking at an HSE press conference last Tuesday, Mr Roberts said: "Ellir was driving a brand new tractor along a slope with a partly-filled trailer.

As he was crossing a bank the trailer overturned taking the tractor with it. There was nothing I could do."

The HSE used the occasion to ram home the message of its soon to be re-launched Safe Driving on Slopes advice, and its Fatal Traction campaign.

Terry Rose, the HSEs senior Welsh agricultural inspector, admitted that safety messages were still not getting through.

Even when they were given pre-notice of an inspection blitz in their areas farmers were not correcting faults like defective pto shaft guards.

Pembrokeshire farmer Russell Evans, one of five members of the HSEs industry advisory committee, said such cases were not always a result of negligence. Some replacement guards were flimsy, and often very difficult to fit.

David Mattey, the HSEs chief agricultural inspector, agreed that the criticism applied to some imported models. The UK was battling the rest of Europe to get the ISO standard changed but was always voted down.

Can manufacturers of tractors and trailers design a coupling that will prevent accidents such as this, in which a 15-year-old was killed?