Agricultural vehicle repair - a specialist approach

Tractor Repair

It’s Farm Safety Week once again. This year’s campaign has got off to a particularly attention-grabbing start, with comedian Al Murray (best known for his role as the ‘pub landlord’) lending his support by sharing his own very personal account of how he helped to rescue a teenage farm worker, whose arm had become trapped in a baler, when he was just 12 years old. Fortunately, with the young farmer’s guidance, Murray was able to shut off the tractor engine and the man’s arm was saved, but years later, it serves as a pertinent reminder of the hazards that surround farming as an industry.  

While Murray, who used to holiday on his cousin’s farm in his childhood, acknowledges that this danger has always been present, he added that the machinery used back then was smaller and lighter and has got bigger, heavier and even more hazardous over the years.  

All farmers recognise the need to maintain and repair vehicles of all types as a staple of farm life. But while many have resource on the farm or through other contacts for so-called ‘fixes’ that can help get machines back to work quickly, what they are less likely to appreciate is the direct impact this has on their responsibility for the employees who operate these vehicles. As the ultimate approvers of any repair work performed on their machinery, farmers are accountable for the methods used and the quality of repair. Any damage repairs carried out  – whether as a result of an accident or not, and regardless of fault – must stand up to scrutiny should that same vehicle be involved in any subsequent incident that results in an employee injury or fatality. So, while there may be willing pairs of hands on or around the farm to undertake quick-fix repairs that get these farming vehicles back out in the field, few are likely to have the types of engineering qualifications required when it comes to fully repairing such machinery.  

At ERS our in-house agricultural engineers take this work very seriously. Working as an extension of our specialist claims management team we take the above worry away from both brokers and their farming clients through an end-to-end process of assessment pre, during and post repair. It means that we won’t authorise any repairs without first understanding and approving of the level of work required and, importantly, the methods being used to ensure these are safe and appropriate. Our experts will often request additional vehicle images and details to uncover any associated damages that may have gone undetected that could compromise a vehicle’s future safety. By managing this process entirely and taking on the liability for both repair method and quality, we aim to give farming clients one less thing to worry about. Indeed the dangers around poor repairs was a feature of last Sunday’s BBC Countryfile programme.  

Events like Farm Safety Week are vital in helping to raise safety awareness and mitigate the harm that split-second decisions can cause in an industry where time-pressure, long hours and lone working are the norm. Hints and tips on best practice when operating heavy vehicles are available through The Farm Partnership and HSE; these are critical in embedding good practice for the operation of farm machinery.

Farming is one of the world’s hardest working industries but important matters such as damage repair liability shouldn’t be overlooked, so make sure you are talking to your farming clients and helping them meet their obligations so that they can focus on the business of running their farms.

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