The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has urged farmers in Northern Ireland to prepare for vehicle inspections that will be taking place from this month.

These inspections are part of the farming transport inspection scheme, which was announced on July 31, and will be carried out by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI).

The HSENI said the programme has been launched in an effort to reduce the number of fatal incidents on farms involving vehicles, which over the last 10 years has claimed the lives of 17 people.

The eight-month long programme will continue until March 2024.

Ahead of the inspections, the UFU has urged members to ensure their farm vehicles are adequately maintained and that they hold the correct licenses/training certificates for vehicles in use, as the HSENI will be reviewing these.

UFU deputy president William Irvine said: “Certain vehicles require specific training such as telescopic handlers and all-terrain vehicles.

“Any person operating such vehicles on the farm whether in a field, yard or road during a work activity, must be adequately trained to do so. This is a legal requirement under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (NI) 1999.

“Inspectors will provide information and advice during their inspections, which will include instructions to complete training courses if the driver does not hold the relevant certificate to operate a piece of machinery.”

Irvine said the HSENI inspection scheme is focused on workplace-based transport in three specific areas including “safe site, safe vehicle and safe driver”.

“Incidents involving vehicles and equipment remain a high cause of injury and death on farms,” he said.

“Working on a farm creates risk every day not only for farmers but farm workers, contractors and other visitors on site.

“We anticipate that there will be high demand for all-terrain and telehandler training and therefore it is important that members book in advance. UFU members can contact their technical officer by calling UFU headquarters for advice on how to access training.’’