Session 6:
The Tractor

At the end of this session you will be able to:

  • Identify the main causes of deaths and serious injuries with tractors
  • Familiarize yourself with pre-start checks
  • List what maintenance tasks need to be done on vehicles


Whether you are a student, a regular tractor driver, or an employer, you need to learn about tractor safety before it is too late.

People die in tractor accidents every year and there are many major injuries, including amputations and fractures.

There are probably other accidents or near misses which HSE never hears about. Simple but essential safety steps would have prevented most of them.


In the last decade, nearly 40 farm machinery operators have been killed when they were run over by their own vehicle after leaving the cab without applying a working handbrake.

Around 30 people were also killed by becoming entangled in machinery and many more were seriously injured.

80% of these occurred when carrying out adjustments while the machinery was left running.


  • Transport was the biggest killer in agriculture in 2018/2019.
  • The most common causes of serious and fatal injuries in agriculture involve moving and overturning vehicles.
  • Transport movements in and around the workplace need to be controlled to protect pedestrians and to prevent damage to equipment and buildings.
  • Other incidents happen when people leave a vehicle without making sure it cannot move or cause injury in other ways.

Avoiding Injuries

How could you avoid potential injuries?

The braking system must be properly maintained and you should also lower to the ground any raised implements or loader

SafeStop Logos


Discuss with your classmates why the following pre-start checks are important.

  • Check engine oil level
  • Check wiper blades
  • Check tyre pressure
  • Check seatbelt
  • Adjust seat
  • Clean the dashboard
  • Check indicators, gauges and meter
  • Check brake and clutch pedal
  • Clean under the brake and clutch pedal
  • Check PTO is intact
  • Clean grill and radiator screen

Tractor Maintenance

Poorly-used or faulty vehicles and machinery are a major cause of death and serious injury on our farms.

Over the past five years, 10% of all fatal injuries in farming were as a result of contact with machinery according to the HSE annual workplace fatality statistics 2016/2017.

Farmers come into contact with a variety of machinery on a daily basis, each of which  bring their own attendant dangers. Hands, hair and clothing can be caught by unguarded PTO shafts or other unguarded moving parts such as pulleys and belts.

People can be injured by front-end loaders, falling from a moving tractor or being struck by its wheels.


  • Ensure PTO guards/shields and restraining chains are in place – Never use PTO-powered equipment that has missing or damaged guards or missing chains. Get them repaired or replaced and be aware that defective PTO shafts can disconnect from the machinery they are attached to. If so, they may swing and/or break off, striking anyone within range.
  • Is the PTO guard the correct size and length for shaft? – Badly-fitted guards can be as dangerous as no guard at all. Take into account the shaft's vertical and lateral movements during work. The rotating shafts must be totally enclosed by the guard. Important: Always refer to the manufacturer's fitting, operating and maintenance instructions.
  • Have the sliding inner and outer surface of the guard and the spring-loaded plunger of the quick release yoke been regularly cleaned and greased?
  • Ensure that other guards are in place and secured to prevent access to other dangerous parts of the machine, such as rotating shafts, chain and sprocket or belt and pulley drives.


  • Never use a machine unless you are trained and know how to use it safely.
  • Make use of relevant training courses such as those run by training providers, agricultural colleges and manufacturers/dealers.
  • Never use a machine unless it is properly maintained.
  • Keep away from moving machinery – remember that some machine components will continue to rotate or move even after the engine has stopped.
  • Wear footwear with a good grip – safety boots are best.
  • Wear clothes that will not snag on machinery – preferably overalls.
  • Keep long hair tied back.
  • Remove any jewellery that might snag – don’t forget watches and rings.
  • Find and read the operator’s manual – keep it handy.