Accident galvanises New Norcia farmer on tractor safety

03 Dec, 1999 04:00 AM
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A TRACTOR accident last month has changed New Norcia farmer Simon Witham's attitude toward farm safety for ever. Mr Witham left hospital last week after rolling a front-end loader driving down the road three weeks ago. The tractor was not equipped will roll over protection (ROPS) equipment and, while he suffered damage to his knee and shoulder, his fate could have been considerably worse. Mr Witham said the accident was proof that you don't have to be lifting, working on slopes or other dangerous situations for accidents to take place. "I was basically driving down the road, at less than half throttle," he said. Mr Witham said he did not consider himself to be at high risk for accidents at all, having recently taken time off and coming back to work the morning of the accident refreshed. A roll cage had been planned for the Chamberlain 306 but he had not found the time to do it. Mr Witham said the tractor was used regularly and had been well maintained. Re-enforcement that had been installed around the windscreen as a falling object protection structure was crushed in the accident. "I don't think anyone in their right mind would argue against putting a roll cage on a tractor but it is one of those things you know you should do, but don't get around to," he said. "But I know I will make sure that things are as risk free as possible from now on and will be reluctant to get in something, or do something that I don't think is safe." Worksafe WA workplace chief inspector John Randall said the case for installing ROPS to tractors was obvious, and for the tractor involved in Mr Witham's accident, would have cost less than $500. Mr Randall said regulations required ROPS to be fitted to tractors where practicable. And, he said research had shown that eight WA people could possibly still be alive had such protection been fitted to the powered mobile plant they were operating.

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