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Farm accident inquiry states importance of tractor lap seatbelts

10th November 2011

The experienced farmer had been driving the tractor on fields which had been sprayed with weed killer. When the tractor lost grip and toppled over, the farm worker was thrown from the cab – the vehicle then rolled on top of him causing severe crush injuries.

The worker died at the scene of the farm accident which occurred in July 2010.

In the court’s findings, Sheriff Fletcher said, “The evidence of the witnesses from the Health and Safety Executive indicated that in nearly all fatal accidents involving tractors working under normal conditions in fields, the fatality was caused by the driver of the vehicle being thrown out.

“The wearing of a lap seatbelt of the kind fitted to this tractor would have prevented [the deceased] from being thrown out.”

Sheriff Fletcher added that the farming and agriculture industries as a whole “had not been encouraging drivers of modern tractors to take advantage of the seat belts fitted” and this may be because the vehicles are operated at relatively slow speeds.

He concluded, “Unfortunately however, accidents happen when one is least expecting them and the stakes are often extremely high so that the only safe course is to make sure that all drivers of tractors fitted with seat belts, wear them.

“Failure to do so may well mean that there is no second chance. In my opinion all employers of persons who drive tractors should make every effort to ensure their employees use the seatbelt provided.

“The relatively small amount of inconvenience which might be caused by the belt pales into insignificance when an accident like the one which happened to [the deceased] occurs.”

Farm accidents continue to be one of the highest causes of work-related fatalities in the UK alongside construction accidents.

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