Machinery and work equipment safety

AuthorInternational Labour Organization
42 Meetings-MESHA-Final Code-2010-10-0355-1-En.doc/v2
8. Machinery and work equipment safety
8.1. Introduction
8.1.1. Agriculture involves the use of a wide variety of hazardous machinery and
processes. Among the most common are tractors, cultivators, harrows, seeding equipment,
sprayers, harvesters, mowers, balers, grinders, trucks, wagons, trailers, all-terrain vehicles,
augers, manure spreaders, and elevating equipment. In addition, a wide range of tools are
used both in agricultural production and when carrying out repairs. The safety features of
equipment and tools should be key considerations at the time of purchase as well as the
adaptability of usage for both women and men workers.
8.1.2. The principal safety risks include traumatic injuries including, but not limited
to, cuts, burns, electrocution, fractures and amputations caused by contact with cutters,
gears, belts, shafts and other moving parts, burst hydraulic hoses and contact with live
electrical equipment. Such injuries occur not only during the course of production but also
during maintenance and repairs, cleaning, clearing blockages, etc. The effects of such
injuries can be all the more serious because many farm workers work alone and first aid or
medical help may be far away.
8.1.3. The safety standards set by the competent authority with regard to the design,
manufacture, installation and use of agricultural machinery and equipment and any
necessary market surveillance should be undertaken before such equipment is used.
8.2. Tractors and ATVs
8.2.1. Hazard description Farm tractors are the most important piece of power equipment used in
agriculture and are associated with a major proportion of injuries and deaths in agricultural
production and maintenance. Older tractors warrant special attention as they are often not
fitted with up-to-date safety equipment, such as rollover protective structures (ROPS) and
seat belts. Most tractors have rubber tyres, hydraulic systems and power-take-off
(PTO) and utilize a combination of engine speeds and gear ratios. The most serious
hazards associated with tractor operations include overturns, run-overs and PTO
entanglement. All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are used as transport vehicles in many
countries, in part because they provide the first step away from draught animals in some
enterprises, and in part because they can perform many tractor-like operations within close
quarters, inside agricultural structures, other enclosures, and in livestock operations. Hazards associated with tractors and ATVs can be grouped into instability
resulting in rollovers, run-overs, PTO stub and other miscellaneous risks including, but not
limited to, slips and falls when climbing on or off tractors and ATVs, crushing injuries
from unintended rolling, and driving under low-hanging branches. Tractors that do not have up-to-date health and safety features such as
rollover protection structures (ROPS), seat belts and temperature-controlled cabs require
specific risk assessment, and such safety features should be retrofitted where possible.

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