Farm Ireland

Sunday 24 September 2017

Farmers could be facing an NCT for their tractors

Tractors and machinery and incidents involving livestock are the areas of greatest concern and will be a central focus in this new plan.(Photo By: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
Tractors and machinery and incidents involving livestock are the areas of greatest concern and will be a central focus in this new plan.(Photo By: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A working group of the Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee, is currently considering the establishment of a mandatory safety test system for tractors.

If it goes ahead, farmers could be facing the equivalent of an NCT for their tractors in an attempt to reduce the number of farmers hurt and fatally injured in farm machinery incidents.

Incidents with tractors and machinery are the largest causes of deaths on Irish farms in recent years and the committee is tasked with raising awareness around farm safety.

The proposal for a mandatory safety test for tractors one of the proposed actions under the Farm Safety Action Plan (2016–2018) which it launched recently.

One member of the working group, Tom Murphy, of the Professional Agricultural Contractors, said the proposal has already been mooted in Europe.

"Too many accidents on Irish farms are because of poorly maintained machinery. All work vehicles have some form of test, why not agricultural machinery too?"

He said that a basic NCT of any tractor should ensure that the tractor has working lights and brakes, the proposals goes as far to say that agricultural machinery should have seat belts, seat sensors, PTO stop buttons, raised hydraulic sensors/ alarms and hands-free devices.

A spokesperson for the Health and Safety Authority said there is no specific date for when the work of this group will be completed.

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The objective of the proposal would be to reduce the level of death and injury arising from tractor and machinery use.

The plan also sets out to ensure all tractors and machinery are compliant with relevant legislation and also to implement the requirements of the Child Safety Code of  Practice, particularly with regard to the prohibition on carrying children under seven years of age on tractors and farm machinery.

Each year fatalities in the sector account for between 30pc and 50pc of all workplace deaths, while farms make up just 6pc of workplaces. Approximately 2,500 non-fatal incidents causing injury take place annually on Irish farms.

Key tractor safety rules

From 2016, revised vehicle standards are in effect for agricultural vehicles (both new and existing) in a number of key road safety areas including braking, lighting & visibility, weights dimensions & coupling, and plating & speed rating.

The new standards are being introduced following a comprehensive review, including a public consultation, undertaken by the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

According to the RSA the majority of correctly maintained tractors already in use comply with the revised standards being introduced.

It says those that do not comply are likely to need only minor remedial works carried out such as the fitting of a flashing amber beacon and/or a replacement manufacturer’s plate indicating their design axle weights and maximum permitted towable masses.

A summary of the improvements for tractors are as follows:

  • More powerful braking systems will be required for agricultural vehicles operating at speeds in excess of 40km/h. Most of the correctly maintained tractors which have come into use in the past 30 years already meet these requirements.
  • Agricultural vehicles will need to be equipped with appropriate lighting systems, flashing amber beacons and reflective markings.


Breach of the new Regulations may result in a direct summons to court, whereby on conviction, courts may impose a class C fine (up to €2,500), a prison sentence or both on both the person who commits the offence and on the owner of the vehicle.

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