In December 2022, a farm worker was fatally injured while travelling as a passenger in a farm ute. Early investigations indicate the worker was sitting in the passenger seat when for reasons yet to be established, the driver lost control and the vehicle rolled over.
These findings are not yet confirmed, and investigations are continuing into the exact cause.
Common types of farm vehicles include cars, utes, trucks, 4WDs, motorbikes, side-by-sides and quad bikes. Vehicles may be confined to use within the farm or used on public roads.
Most fatalities and serious injuries associated with farm vehicles involve collisions, rollovers with ejection and run overs. Many different factors add to the risks, including:
- operators and passengers not wearing seatbelts
- unrestrained passengers being carried in the tray or on trailers
- inexperienced drivers
- poorly maintained vehicles
- travelling on rough roads.
Ways to manage health and safety
Taking steps to manage risks is a condition of doing business in Queensland. Effective risk management starts with a commitment to health and safety from those who manage the business. If an incident occurs, you'll need to show the regulator that you’ve used an effective risk management process. This responsibility is covered by your primary duty of care in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
Use the hierarchy of controls to help decide how to eliminate and reduce risks in your place of work. The hierarchy of controls ranks types of control methods from the highest level of protection and reliability to the lowest. It’s a step-by-step approach to eliminating or reducing risks. You must work through the hierarchy of controls when managing risks, with the aim of eliminating the hazard, which is the most effective control.
Possible control measures to prevent similar incidents
Controls for the risks associated with farm vehicles may include, but are not limited to:
- adopting safe driving methods
- never operating the machine or vehicle beyond its capacity (e.g. overloading)
- parking across slopes, if possible, and ensuring the handbrake is fully applied before leaving the vehicle
- taking care when driving on steep ground, avoiding sudden changes of direction and braking, and turning cautiously on downhill and side slopes
- being particularly careful when reversing, sounding the horn before moving and ensuring the driver can see what is behind them.
Before operating any passenger carrying vehicle, ensure:
- the vehicle selected is right for the task, is roadworthy and is fitted with suitable safety features (such as seat belts). Consider checking the vehicle’s mechanics, including the oil, water, tyres, lights and battery before you leave
- any environmental risk factors – ground conditions, terrain, weather (including seasonal changes) have been considered and assessed
- the manufacturer's operating instructions have been read and are followed
- drivers are competent to operate vehicles with consideration given to the environmental factors. Untrained or inexperienced workers should not operate the vehicle, particularly in unfamiliar or high-risk terrain or for unfamiliar tasks
- the driver and all passengers use seatbelts and adhere to any site or area specific speed limits
- workers who drive road registered vehicles hold the appropriate type of licence to drive that vehicle, irrespective of whether the vehicle is operated on a public road or private property
- information, training, instruction or supervision necessary to control the risks associated with the vehicle
- training programs are practical and hands on and take into account the particular needs of workers like literacy levels, work experience and specific skills required for safe use of the vehicle, Ensuring worker training, experience and competency aligns with the requirements and complexity of the task
- that passengers are never permitted to ride in the vehicle’s tray
- the use of a suitable means of communication (for example; two-way radio)
- the vehicle is maintained regularly to very high standards, as recommended by the manufacturer.
The control measures you put in place should be regularly reviewed to make sure they are effective. If the control measure is not working effectively, it must be revised to ensure it is effective in controlling the risk.
- Managing risks of plant in the workplace code of practice 2021 (PDF, 1.57 MB)
- Farm vehicles and harvesters
- Managing the work environment and facilities code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.57 MB)
- Farm Safety (PDF, 0.64 MB)
- How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.65 MB)
- Work health and safety consultation, co-operation and co-ordination code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.49 MB)
Have you been affected by a workplace fatality, illness or serious injury?
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