“Agriculture is the most dangerous of all industrial sectors,” says Roger Nourish, head of the HSE‘s agriculture and food sector.

“We are evaluating measures to help reduce these accident rates. Greater levels of driver training and a possible annual inspection and test of agricultural vehicles may be the answer to improving safety standards.”

One thing is for sure – we are planning a significant increase in the number of roadside checks in conjunction with the police and the Vehicle Inspectorate.

“Daunting as this may seem, most farmers who know the law and undertake regular maintenance procedures will find they already comply, says Ian Jones, Director General of the British Agricultural and Garden Machinery Association (BAGMA).

“We currently run a voluntary farm vehicle health check scheme. Dealers or farmers themselves can complete the simple check list which applies to vehicles and trailed appliances,” he says.

“The only major check the test lacks is a reliable, easy brake-test, which is something we need to address.

“He cites safety as the main reason for the uptake of such a scheme on a wider scale, but says the advantages to farmers are across a broader spectrum.

“I believe the scheme should remain voluntary, however I‘m sure we will soon see a requirement for some sort of check from health and safety risk assessments and insurance companies.

“Farmers and contractors who already undertake regular recognised testing procedures will be recognised for their efforts and, of course, will see the benefits of regular maintenance in improved machine reliability and better second-hand values.”