The results of two Coronial Inquests into deaths involving tractors – one a rollover and the other an ejection from the seat - have just been released by Coroner Richard McElrea. In his findings on both cases, Coroner McElrea has recommended that WorkSafe publicise to the agricultural sector the importance of wearing a lap seat belt when operating tractors.

Since 1 January 2010 WorkSafe has been notified of 29 agriculture fatalities that involved a tractor.

The incidents

In November 2012, a 59 year old man was killed on  his family farm at Millers Flat in Central Otago when the tractor he was driving rolled 50 metres downhill, ejecting him from the cab. The tractor was fitted with a four post rollover protection structure and had a lap seat belt. Coroner McElrea notes in his findings that had the man been wearing the seat belt, “his chances of survival would have been markedly improved”.

In February 2013, a 62 year old contractor who had driven tractors from a young age was killed when he lost control of a tractor on steep terrain near Gore. The contractor was ejected from his seat and suffered multiple traumatic injuries. Coroner McElrea noted “ given the violent movement of the tractor he had no chance of controlling the unit without his lap seat belt in place.”

WorkSafe advice

WorkSafe advises the agriculture sector that where lap seat belts (or any seat belt) are fitted to mobile plant, they should be used. WorkSafe advises that this advice should be widely disseminated by the agriculture sector to employers, employees and contractors.


WorkSafe provides the following guidance

ACOP: Roll over protective structures on tractors in agricultural operations (PDF 134 KB)
Safe use of tractors on farms (PDF 2.6 MB)