Which Technologies Make Australian Farm Machinery Safer? A Decision Support Tool for Agricultural Safety Effectiveness


This project combined systems engineers, farm safety researchers, work health and safety inspectorate and policymakers with the aim of designing a way in which to reduce fatal farm injury caused by run-overs and roll-overs by tractors and side-by-side vehicles. The team made comparisons between farm machinery and powered mobile plant that is used in the industrial manufacturing, warehousing and logistics, mining, and construction sectors. Current and emerging safety technologies and engineering solutions were collated. Safety standards, legislated engineering controls, retrofit designs, and known ways in which farmers’ workaround safety features were considered. These elements were used as criteria to propose a way to resolve which safety technologies or engineering controls should be recommended for aftermarket retrofitting or incorporated at the original equipment manufacturer design stage. The concept of measuring safety effectiveness to prevent fatal farm injury emerged. This developed into a score sheet and a corresponding matrix to highlight engineering strength and industry acceptance. The project resulted in the conceptual design of the agricultural safety effectiveness score (ASES). The next phase is a multi-stakeholder validation process and a protocol for the scoring system. It requires a hypothesis to test the theory that when safety technologies and engineering solutions are mature in other industries or if they are associated with agricultural productivity gains, their adoption into the agricultural sector is more likely, which in turn will reduce the incidence of tractor and side-by-side run-overs and roll-overs on farms.