An eight-month long programme of workplace-based vehicle safety inspections on farms across Northern Ireland has been announced today (Monday, July 31).

The programme is being undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) 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 programme will begin in August and continue until March 2024 and will include safety inspections on how vehicles on farms are maintained, if those operating the vehicle hold the correct qualifications, and if there is a mobile phone policy for drivers.

Between 2013 and December 2022 there have been 53 fatalities on farms in Northern Ireland, 17 of which involved vehicles.

HSENI principal inspector Camilla Mackey said: “Each and every death is a tragedy for a family and community. All of the incidents we have seen could have been prevented.  

“Often the older farmer or young children are involved in vehicle incidents on farms with tragic consequences.

“We have seen serious incidents involving vehicles as a result of inoperable or faulty braking systems, the lack of roll-over protection, poor maintenance, failing to keep people and vehicles apart, and inadequate driver training.

“While we have been working closely with the farming community on a range of issues, this scheme is focused on workplace transport in three specific risk areas of safe site, safe vehicle, and safe driver.”

Where significant risks are found, inspectors may take enforcement action in order to achieve compliance with health and safety legislation to ensure that the risks are properly managed.

Mackey added: “Farmers must also consider the safety of visitors to their site, e.g., veterinary services or DAERA [Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs of Northern Ireland] staff, agricultural deliveries and collections, and contractors.

“We are calling on the farming community to work with us to help reduce the risks associated with farming by taking a few moments to think SAFE before every job.”


Inspectors to farms in Northern Ireland can be expected to assess the farmers on a range of factors that impact the safety of a farm vehicle, which include:

  • Is there a single entrance and sufficient lighting to the farmyard and dwelling house?;
  • How vehicles, pedestrians, and young children are managed during busy periods and if there are visibility aids used around the farmyard such as convex/concave mirrors;
  • Whether roadway surfaces are well maintained and if slats on underground tanks are checked to ensure stability for vehicles driving over them;
  • If farm vehicles are adequately maintained by a competent person and if the brakes, mirrors, lights, window wipers and reversing cameras are in place and in good condition.

Regarding those operating the vehicles on the farm, the inspector may look for:

  • If those working on the farm hold adequate licences/training certificates for the vehicles they are authorised to drive, and if they are aware of vulnerable people who may be on the premises;
  • If the farmer is aware of the legislation surrounding children being carried on, or driving agricultural vehicles;
  • If there are adequate emergency procedures in place in the event an incident occurs.