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Young persons - be safe around farm vehicles and machinery

Young persons - be safe around farm vehicles and machinery

Health and Safety Authority figures tell us that sadly 22 children lost their lives as a result of farm accidents in the past 10 years. HSA figures also tell us that 91% of childhood deaths on farms had a farm vehicle or a machine involved. Get some advice here on keeping young persons safe

Young children and farm vehicles

Child on tractor with seat beltYoung children should not be allowed near tractors or farm vehicles. Tractors and farm vehicles and machinery that is not in use are also high risk due to sharp edges, machine parts moving and the possibility of falls from the machine. Children under seven are not legally permitted to travel on a tractor. Children 7 years old can travel in the cab of a tractor or other farm machinery if a passenger seat and seat belt is provided. Contractors should be made aware of the possible presence of children at houses or near schools.


  • Don't give children the habit of 'getting spins' on tractors and other farm vehicles.
  • lower all equipment to the ground
  • remove keys
  • lock vehicles
  • supervise children

Young person driving farm vehicles

  • Children under 14 years old should not operate tractors or self-propelled machines.

Health and Safety Authority guidance on persons over 14 driving tractors on farm is as follows;

A child or young person aged 14 or over should only be permitted to drive a tractor or self-propelled machine on the farm, if:

  • they have attended a formal training course run by a competent training provider
  • they are closely supervised by a responsible adult
  • they have the ability to operate the controls with ease
  • all the controls are conveniently accessible for safe operation by the operator when seated in the driver's seat Farm Safety PTO shaft
  • the controls which operate the power take off (PTO) devices, hydraulic devices and engine cut-off are clearly marked to show the effect of their operation 
  • the tractor is maintained so that it is safe for them to operate
  • the ground over which the tractor is driven is free from hazards such as steep slopes or excavations, river banks, lake or pond edges, deep ditches and similar areas

Remember – Before asking a young person over 14 to carry out a task with a farm vehicle you must carry out a risk assessment of the task and decide if the young person has the training, skills and competence to carry out the task safely.

Young persons over 16

Currently 16 year olds are legally allowed to drive farm vehicles on the road when they have a provisional learner permit. It is important that farmers and contractors actively risk assess each task to ensure the young person has the training, skills competence and experience to carry out the task safely. The driver of modern farm vehicles must constantly make decisions about other road users:

  • the size of the machine
  • travelling speed
  • road conditions
  • weight of load to safely mange the machine.

HSA data shows in the period 2012-2021 41.9% of fatalities associated with farm vehicles were due to a person on foot or cycling being struck by a farm vehicle with a further 30% being due to a crash or collision and 11%.

This data emphasises the importance of appropriate sills, experience and competence in order to operate these machines safely. Find out more from the HSA 

Safety Tips

  • Provide training, supervision and instruction for machine operators.
  • Match the tasks to the capacity of machine operators.
  • Encourage drivers to operate the machine at an appropriate speed, taking conditions and road type into consideration.
  • Praise drivers for active risk assessment during tasks.
  • Encourage machine operators to actively identify items that require maintenance.
  • Ban the use of mobile phones when operating machinery.

Additional resources

The HSA have produced free online courses on the topic of safe farming that young adults and farmers would find very informative. Find out more on the HSA website   

Tractor safety and you

Get Guidance on the safe use of tractors and machinery on farms.pdf on the HSA website  

#FarmSafetyWeek runs from July 18th - 22nd. Check out Teagasc Daily all this week for further updates