Reality of ‘Run-Away’ Farm Equipment

13 March 2024

Three accidents involving workers being seriously injured or killed by ‘run-away’ farm equipment in the past month have prompted a SafeWork SA warning.

A farm worker is in a critical condition after being run over by a harvesting sweeper on 4 March.

It follows two serious February incidents involving run-away farm equipment. In the first incident on 2 February, a farmer sustained critical injuries and later died after being crushed by a tractor.

The farmer was repairing the tractor when it began rolling forward. He attempted to jump onto the tractor to stop it rolling and was run over by the rear wheel.

Four days later, a person was crushed by a run-away tractor on a Riverland property.

The main contributing factor to incidents involving run-away farm equipment is the failure to use safety equipment, such as handbrakes or wheel chocks, to prevent the plant rolling away.

All workers should receive adequate instruction and training in the correct use of the farm equipment, including safety features, to minimise the risk of injuries.

Operators of farm equipment must ensure moving equipment is adequately secured to prevent movement whilst being maintained or stored.

Safety solutions

To reduce the risk of incidents and injuries occurring, employers must ensure:

  • all operators of plant and equipment receive adequate information, training, instruction, or supervision necessary to protect all persons from risks to health and safety arising from work carried out
  • all workers required to use plant which has safety devices installed are provided with information, instruction and training on the correct operation of these devices
  • implementation of a system of work for the testing of safety devices prior to the operation of the plant which may involve a daily checklist or similar system of work
  • plant and equipment are operated and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements or those of a competent person
  • workers and/or other persons do not deliberately defeat, or override safety devices fitted to plant and equipment.

SafeWork SA reminds businesses and contractors to ensure that all safety devices fitted to plant and equipment are used, and functioning, as per the manufacturer’s requirements and are tested on a regular basis to ensure they are not faulty.

Useful Links:

Tractors | SafeWork SA

Farmers-guidebook.pdf (

Safety Alert: Stop roll-away vehicles in their tracks

Safe Work Australia Fact Sheet: Prevention of vehicle roll-aways and safe immobilisation