10 July 1998

Tractor safety video tells brutal truth…

IS your tractor worth more than your life, or that of a member of your staff? This is one of the stark questions asked by the Health and Safety Executive in its continuing campaign against the largest single killer on UK farms – the moving vehicle.

Struck by vehicle – its official classification – caused the death of 11 drivers, three passengers and six pedestrians last year alone. Of those 20, two were children.

Furthermore, statistics reveal that if you work in the agricultural sector for 20 years, there is one-in-575 risk that you will die as a result of an accident at work.

Those are the cold facts. But to really ram home the dangers and consequences of neglect and complacency around all vehicles on the farm – and to illustrate the simple, but effective, steps that can be taken to avoid accidents happening – the HSEs has taken the gloves off and is using a video which pulls no punches.

Fatal Traction, and its accompanying booklet of the same name, does not use dummies, tomato sauce or drawings. It employs reconstructions of specific incidents with graphic stills of the actual injuries sustained. And to further reinforce the message a trauma surgeon explains and illustrates just how those injuries caused death.

As to the reasons for accidents, complacency and over-confidence in the safe operation of machinery are still apparent. Falling from the tractor drawbar or cab steps under its wheels or that of towed equipment; overloading tractors, compounded by faulty brakes and treadless tyres.

Visibility risks

There are also the dangers posed by the limited rearward offside visibility of the telehandler and that of engine noise in confined spaces – a grain lorry driver who was crushed against the store wall could hear the handlers reversing alarm, but the operator, who was not aware of the drivers presence, could not see him or hear him shouting.

Fatalities are not only caused by big machinery. ATVs can be killers if their power and tractive capabilities are over-estimated and driven without protective clothing, especially headgear.

Yet, the video and booklet illustrate that effective uncomplicated steps can be taken to minimise accidents involving moving vehicles. Fatal Traction can be bought from the HSE for £38.50 or hired for £14.85. It is not for the squeamish, but it gets the message across.

A new video from the HSE, Fatal Traction, illustrates how simple but effective steps can be taken to avoid tractor accidents like this one.