Farmers and agricultural workers are at risk of fatal or serious injury while operating or working with tractors, harvesters, sprayers, trucks, 2-wheel and 4-wheel motorbikes, farm implements and attachments. Ensure all workers are properly inducted and trained in the correct operation of all farm machinery to prevent accidents.

Machinery that has hydraulic equipment can have extremely high energy as it is used to shift and support large loads. Serious crush injuries can result from normal movement of the hydraulic equipment and when the hydraulic systems fail. Plant arms or equipment can cause injury through rapid movement or slow movement without the worker being aware of the danger.

Seventy-five percent (75%) of farm worker deaths in 2016 involved a vehicle.

The injuries range from death, serious injury requiring hospitalisation and downtime that stops work for a short time, or makes work slower and reduces productivity on the farm, all have an impact on the farm business.

Hazards and risks associated with using farm machinery on Australian farms include:

  • Tractor rollover and run over
  • Machinery power take offs (PTOs) unguarded
  • Hydraulics causing crush injuries
  • Ergonomics causing back strain
  • Noise induced hearing loss
  • Working at heights and stairs causing falls
  • Poor operator skills

Recommendations to reduce fatal or serious injury include:

  • Maintain farm machinery, and related implements and attachments in line with industry standards and manufacturers’ requirements.
  • Conduct pre-operational checks in line with the manufacturers’ instructions on all machinery.
  • Fit your tractors and quad bikes with approved roll over protective structures (ROPS).
  • Ensure all guards are in place, especially power take off (PTO) guards, and check them regularly for signs of wear and tear.
  • Ensure all machinery is fitted with non-slip, side-access steps that are in good condition.
  • Do not allow anyone to ride on the steps, or on implements attached to the tractor, while the tractor is moving.
  • Do not attempt to board or disembark a moving tractor or machine.
  • Ensure workers are properly inducted, trained and supervised, especially inexperienced and young operators.

Find out more about this topic on Better Health Channel

Fast facts:

  • Farm machinery is a major cause of death and injury on farms and tractors, augers and quadbikes are involved in many.
  • Make sure all machinery complies with safety standards and always use guards and shields.
  • Ensure all workers are properly inducted and trained in the correct operation of all farm machinery to prevent accidents.
  • Keep children well clear of machinery and should not be passengers or drive farm machinery.

References used for this topic

More information:

Farm Safety Toolbox

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
Machinery Guarding Safety Sheet

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
Hydraulics Safety

WorkSafe Victoria
Power Take Guarding

Research & reviews:

Monash University Accident Research Centre
Monash University Department of Forensic Medicine [PDF 101kb]

Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
Machine Injuries on Australian Farms