Farm Safety Starts with Our Youths

The FRS “Safe Tractor Driving Programme” is the only one of its kind in the country and is aimed at teenagers (14 to 16 yrs.)

FRS Safe Tractor Driving Skills

A large group of 23 Students from Thurles CBS at the FRS Teenage Safe Tractor Driving Course

Action to Reduce Child Fatalities

The Safe Tractor Driving Course was set up by FRS in 1996 following a large number of fatal accidents in Agriculture and in particular with children under the age of 16 years. One of the worst years ever recorded in Ireland was 1991, when a total of 13 children lost their lives to farm accidents. We, at FRS, decided we needed to do take action and when we analysed the accidents it quickly became clear that the tractor was the main cause of accidents with Teenagers.

This was the start of the “The Skills to Survive” programme and we estimate that FRS has trained approximately 8,000 Teenagers on this one day programme since it was set up in 1996.

Farm accidents and fatalities still remain a huge cause for concern and we believe that farming safely and responsibly begins with training our youths.


Working through Parents and Schools

Very often Mothers contact the office who have heard about our programme or saw it on the TV series Ear to the Ground (go to to view this TV footage) and want their son or daughter trained on tractor safety.

We make contact with secondary schools through the Principals or very often the Agricultural Science teachers and ask them to come on board and help source students for the training.

We have run the FRS Safe Tractor Driving course with many groups of young people, but it should be a course that is ran in every second level school in the country. With the annual fatalities on Irish farms over 20 – farming is the most dangerous occupation in Ireland and farm safety education should be part of every school curriculum.

We invite guardians, parents and schools to take action and contact us to arrange a course.


FRS SafeTractor Driving Course

The main focus of the course is teaching the teenagers how to operate and drive a tractor safely, with practical instruction being a key component of the training.

Tractors nowadays have become increasingly larger in size and faster in speed so they can pull heavier and bigger loads and as a result they may be more dangerous to inexperienced drivers.

The vast majority of fatal Farm accidents occur when using a tractor on its own firstly and secondly when attaching or using it with other implements.

I am fully convinced that teaching the correct safety procedures to young people is essential to making them safer on farms when operating tractors and other machinery. Farm safety starts with our youths and instils an ethos and awareness of farm safety that they will bring with them through their farming careers.

The theory element of the course takes approx. 1 hour 30 minutes and is followed by a practical driving session by every teenager , where the skills taught in the class room are practiced in a real driving scenario.

These courses are generously supported by FBD which is a huge help in keeping the cost down so that the course is affordable to Teenagers.


Available to all Schools and Students

I would like all schools and parents to know that this course is available to them. Once we get a group of 15 students we can then arrange the course in their local area in a very short amount of time.

While the majority of students on the course tend to be male we often had a number of female participants and strongly encourage girls to take part. The course is open to all students from both Farming and Non-Farming backgrounds. It is common in rural Ireland that many friends and relatives from non- farming families visit farms and should be safety aware. Driving experience is not necessary to take part as students will be shown safe practices from the start.

The cost per person is €30 and anyone interested should contact our office at 0505/31588 or 1890 20 1000 and visit our website where full details of course content is available and footage from Ear to the Ground. Come and ‘like’ our facebook page ( to keep informed on FRS training courses.

Farm Safety Inspections – What to Expect

Farm safety has been high on the agenda of the Health & Safety Authority (HSA) over the past 3 years with the increased surge in fatal accidents on farms. At FRS we believe that farm safety training is vital to help farms get the training they need to keep their farms safe. There were 22 fatal accidents on Irish farms in 2010 and a further 22 in 2011.

The H.S.A has responsibility for all work areas in society including construction, pharmaceutical, education, health, Mining & Quarrying etc., but it is clear to see that farm safety is of top priority.

Advice or Enforcement

As farmers we should be prepared for an increased number of inspections on farms for 2012. The H.S.A. has a dual purpose – on the one hand the H.S.A are there to advise, help and assist farmers with information on how to comply, but on the other are tasked to enforce the legislation. The Authority are  taking the lead on reducing farm accidents, but this can only be achieved with assistance from all the farm organisations playing their role and if significant improvements are not made enforcement may be the only alternative.

FRS Training have played an active part in the H.S.A Farm Safety Partnership and are on the recommended list of training providers. As chairman of the livestock committee sub group we have produced important documents for farmers and were involved in the production the H.S.A Safe livestock handing DVD.

Farm Safety Inspections

  • Official inspections can only be carried by H.S.A Inspectors, who will produce ID on arrival
  • Inspections consist of a discussion with the farmer and a walk around the farm yard and  further discussions on issues raised
  • Inspectors will look at the main areas on farms that cause accidents based on statistical findings
  • In total there are possibly 15/16 areas inspectors concentrate on
    • Areas such as; Machinery, Tractors, Slurry, Livestock facilities, Silos, Workshop, Electrical, Chemicals, Chainsaws, Employed labour, Safety Statement, Risk Assessment, Child Safety, Bulls – to name a few
  • They may focus on a  particular area over others
  • Inspectors  want to see that the farmer is making a good attempt to have things right
  • They may issue various notices or directions, such as an Improvement Direction, Improvement Notice, and Prohibition Notice as required
  • Depending on the risk associated with the particular area a farmer may be given some time to fix, replace, guard or get rid of a particular item or structure on the farm
  • If something is deemed by an inspector to be ‘high risk’ then the farmer must act immediately on their instruction

Will I get notice of the visit?

Farm safety inspections are unannounced and can be take place any time during normal working hours (in certain circumstances when there is a high risk they may visit outside normal hours eg in construction or manufacturing where night shifts are in operation etc).

What can I do to be prepared?

Usually inspectors will ask for your completed Risk Assessment or Safety Statement document once they enter the farm so be prepared.

  • Get your Risk Assessment completed (FRS can help you with this)
  • You can complete your Risk Assessment on line if you wish ( Contact FRS Training for assistance with this)
  • Take a walk around your farm and write down the things that need attention and attend to them
  • Get your PTO covers guarded
  • Ensure all gates are hanging properly
  • Have a look at your livestock handling facilities – ie crush, calving pens, bull pen etc. to ensure they are safe and fit for purpose
  • Give your yard a good tidy up – most farmyards needs this at regular intervals. (FRS – Farm Relief Services offer this service if time is an issue)
  • Make sure all manholes and tank openings are well guarded
  • Look at your yard through the eyes of a child, look at things from their eye level and ask yourself – Is my farm safe for children? Are there ladders, bales of hay, items left standing by the wall, open manholes, possible access to the cattle sheds or chemicals?

Should I be worried about a farm Safety Inspection?

It’s fair to say that no farmer likes inspections of any sort as usually it means something will be picked up and there may be consequences.

However, Farm Safety Inspections should be viewed in a positive way, as a second set of eyes assessing the safety on your farm and better still trained eyes. After all the farm is often a place of work and the family home,  which  means there may be spouses, children and older family members who may be at risk on a daily basis, and this commands extra awareness.

‘Farming is the only workplace in Ireland where children are allowed into a work area.’

In my experience Health & Safety Inspectors are there to advise you on where you need to improve, they are very reasonable and practical people specially trained in their area of work, but they have a serious job to do and do correctly as their work may hinge on life or death situations so they will have to do what it takes to do their effectively.

Don’t be worried, but do prepare and get FRS Training to help if you are unsure about what you need to do.

Relevant Training

FRS Training can provide all the relevant information you need to know about how to prepare for safety inspections and are a reputable and recognised course provider. We assist farmers in completing Risk Assessment Documents and can help complete your Safety Statement. Check out our free health & safety information & advice section on our website –

We provide a wide range of training courses – from business management to the practical training courses on tractors, ATV Quad bikes, chainsaws and chemical handling. Courses can be tailored to individual needs or to a group.

Talk to us today on 1890 20 1000 or visit for a full list of FRS Training Courses.