27 June 2000
Safety officials target tractor imports
by FWi staff
FARMERS who buy imported second-hand tractors from Japan face hefty fines if it is found the machines are in breach of British health and safety law
Health and Safety Executive officials believe there is a growing grey market in imported tractors which do not meet British safety standards.
The current exchange rate and increased use of the internet has made such purchases look attractive, said Greg Bunbay, head of HSE agriculture.
Many of the tractors weight more than 560kg and are subject to regulations making it illegal to use them without an approved cab or roll bar, he added.
If farmers allow their employees to use tractors that do not have approved frames when they should have, they will be breaking the law.
The imports include well-known tractor makes such as Kubota, Shibaura, Iseki, Hinomoto, Sato and Yanmar, said Mr Bunbay.
Some machines could be hazardous, especially if they have no instruction booklets and all control markings and warning stickers in Japanese.
In some cases it has also been reported that the power takeoff shafts rotate in the opposite direction to UK and EC 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.