Tractor and rural machinery safety

This information bulletin was prepared in response to common questions asked about tractor and rural machinery safety. A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must not allow a worker to drive a tractor unless satisfied they have been provided with information, training, instruction or supervision that is necessary to protect them from risks arising from the use of the plant.

General information pertaining to tractors

Risks associated with all powered mobile plant including tractors must be managed by a PCBU including the following:

  • The tractor overturning
  • Things falling on the operator
  • The operator being ejected from the tractor
  • The tractor colliding with a person or object
  • Mechanical failure of pressurized elements such as hydraulics.

In addition every tractor between 560 and 15000 kilograms must have a securely fitted roll-over protective structure.

The weights described are the lightest weight of a tractor normally available for retail sale when new without water, fuel or oil.

Passengers on tractors

A PCBU or person with management or control of the powered mobile plant must ensure as far as reasonably practicable that no person other than the operator, ride on the plant unless the person is provided with a level of protection that is equivalent to that provided to the operator.

Power take-off guards

Any power transmission equipment attached to a tractor for the purpose of driving another machine, and every joint by which such equipment is linked, must be fitted with guards that ensure any person at or near the machine is protected and his or her clothes are protected from coming into contact with any moving parts of the equipment and the joints.

 Before and after guard fitted to power take-off shaft

Image: Before and after guard fitted to power take-off shaft.

Before hitching of implements

A properly hitched load helps to keep the front wheels on the ground.  To avoid overturning backwards never hitch the load to the rear axle or attach to a high draw bar hitch.

When pulling heavy loads or when pulling other vehicles from a bog it is better to use reverse gear and pull from a hitch point on the front of the tractor. Using this method the tractor cannot turn over backwards.

Guarding of machine components

If guarding is to be used as a risk control measure for preventing injuries associated with moving parts then the following must be considered:

Guarding must:

  • be of solid construction and securely mounted so as to resist impact or shock
  • prevent by-passing or disabling of the guard
  • not create a risk in itself (for example it must not obstruct operator visibility, weaken the plant, cause discomfort to operators or introduce new hazards such as pinch points, rough or sharp edges)
  • be properly maintained
  • control any risk from potential broken or ejected parts and work pieces
  • allow for servicing, maintenance and repair to be undertaken with relative ease, and
  • if guarding is removed the plant cannot be restarted unless the guarding is replaced.

Other information

To assist you in obtaining additional information on this or other issues please refer to the following list of references:

Safe Work Australia:

Australian Standards:

  • AS 1636 Protective cabs and frames for agricultural tractors.
  • AS/NZS 2153.1:1997 Tractors and machinery for agriculture and forestry - Technical means for ensuring safety – General.
  • AS 1121.1:2007 Agricultural tractor power take-offs.