Regular maintenance checks - literally a matter of life and death

31 May 2023

HSE advises that half of farming fatalities involving moving equipment could be prevented by checking and maintaining key components.

According to the new HSE Work Right Agriculture campaign, moving vehicles are the highest cause of deaths in British farming. These incidents account for 30% of all fatal injuries over the past 5 years. 

Crucially, the HSE has advised that 50% of deaths involving moving vehicles on British farms could have been prevented if elements such as brakes and steering were maintained. (For more information visit

Lifting equipment such as tractors, telehandlers and forklifts are regularly used in farming, and legally require Thorough Examinations (LOLER) at least once a year in accordance with the law. However, the traditional LOLER inspection does not include a number of critically important components and assemblies such as brakes, steering, tyres, etc.

Explaining the situation, Geoff Martin, Chairman of industry accrediting body CFTS, says: “Correct inspections and the associated maintenance programmes can literally save lives. That’s why it is so important to check your existing provision and ensure your regular Thorough Examination is truly thorough. Sadly, the majority aren’t, so my advice is to check what’s covered by your current provider and, if necessary, make the switch to one that embraces the requirements of PUWER as well as LOLER – like that developed by CFTS.

“A Thorough Examination is vital in every industry but especially in agriculture which has the highest number of fatal and serious injuries of all industry sectors in Great Britain. According to figures from HSE, over the past 5 years the average fatal incident rate in agriculture is 21 times higher than the average across all other industries.

“And let’s remember, each one of those accidents comes at a huge personal cost, along with serious financial implications.

“By scheduling regular Thorough Examinations, and ensuring that equipment is consistently maintained, owners can minimise the risk of mechanical failure. Any of the 750 CFTS-accredited depots throughout the UK can give you clear guidance and practical assistance.”

HSE has provided advice on maintenance – including LOLER guidance – on its website at