Young people learning how to drive farm machinery from professional trainers is "absolutely critical", senior inspector at the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) Pat Griffin has said.

He said that sometimes parents think they are skilled enough to train their kids. However, he argued that they are not.

"If you teach bad habits on farms, the long-term consequences can be dreadful.

"It's like driving a car - back over the years, parents would take their young fellas and young girls to train them to drive cars, but sometimes they taught them bad habits.

"We really want to promote this training for young people. We are delighted that FRS and FBD continue to do it and that is back invigorated again," he said.

A group of students from St Brendan's Community School in Birr, Co Offaly, receiving their Safe Tractor Driver certificates this year.

Speaking at St Brendan's Community School in Birr, Co Offaly, where teachers have been putting students through the FRS training course for a number of years, Griffin said: "It sets them up for life. Even the basic thing of getting in and out of a tractor - it's critical to safety.

"They learn how to do the pre-start check, they learn how to do the safe stop procedure, lower all implements, take out the key and lock it properly," he said.


Stressing the importance of learning how to reverse properly, Griffin hoped that farmers would start thinking about reducing the speed of the reversing manoeuvre and start thinking generally about safety, as all these little things, he said, will make a change.

He added that more training for young people will change the statistic that nearly half of all our fatalities on farms involve tractors and other vehicles.

"We have big machinery in small yards and it's a recipe for disaster and training is absolutely critical. We are trying to improve the skill set of all farmers and particularly younger farmers.

"The FRS has provided youth driver skills training for many many years and it has been supported by FBD and the Health and Safety Authority."

Numbers fell away during COVID-19, Griffin said, but there is now an appetite for it again.