1 August 1997

Tractor deaths on rise

THE Health and Safety Executive has issued a revised bilingual version of its leaflet on the Prevention of Tractors Overturning.

Publication at the Royal Welsh Show coincided with the announcement of the worst Welsh fatal accident figures for a decade. The 13 deaths compared with an average of seven in the previous 10 years, and were described as "a distressing set back" by HSE inspectors.

Farmers were warned that no leaflet could substitute for proper training, especially for steep land working, good tractor maintenance and operating routines, and risk awareness.

Among the main causes of accidents were lapses of concentration, and rushing jobs, said chief agricultural inspector David Mattey. His advice was for drivers to stop and think what a fatal accident could do to their families, or the impact of serious injury on self-employed farmers and contractors.

Glenys Thomas, a Carmarthen farmers wife, described an over-turning incident that left her with a permanently damaged arm. This occurred when she responded without thinking to a call from her husband Byron and turned a tractor up a slope without lowering the mounted hay rake.

The manoeuvre unbalanced the tractor and it rolled three times.

"I was doing something I had done many times before without mishap," Mrs Thomas said.

"It made me realise that it is necessary to take precautions every time to be able to operate tractors safely."

HSEs David Mattey – "Tractor drivers should stop and think what a fatal accident could do to their families…"