Health and safety guidelines for agricultural machinery working demonstrations

SIM 01/2001/04


This Operational Guidance alerts inspectors to guidance published by the Agricultural Engineers Association (AEA) entitled, "Health and safety guidelines for working events" and provides additional information on the standards of health and safety expected at working events. It should be read in conjunction with the AEA guide.


The Association of Show & Agricultural Organisations (ASAO) and other show organisers have produced guidelines for show organisers and exhibitors. Much of the published guidance reflects the nature of static shows (such as county agricultural shows). The AEA wanted specific guidance for working events such as Tillage, which they organise.

The AEA guide sets out the standards for AEA-run events and has been copied to other show organisers. This Operational Guidance has been produced to complement the general guidance in the AEA document and to ensure consistent standards across all events.

The AEA guide,is a public document available to both AEA members and non-members. A current electronic copy can be obtained from:

Samuelson House
62 Forder Way
Telephone: 0845 6448748
E-mail: [email protected]

The guide (current at February 2013) can also be found in TRIM: Record Number 2012/0082952.

A copy of this operational guidance has been sent to the AEA so that they are aware of the standards set out below. HSE suggested changes to their guide, covering the issues below, but these were not accepted.


If there is a doubt in interpretation of the AEA document, inspectors are asked to contact the Sector for further advice.


Event organisers should ensure that that stewards, demonstrators and exhibitors are familiar with the rules etc for that particular event. Risk assessments must cover the individual circumstances of the event including plot layouts and control measures put into place to protect visitors from ejected material, noise, dust etc.

The event safety officer should oversee all exhibitor risk assessments and offer advice on the adequacy of the proposed controls to ensure visitor safety to exhibitor safety representatives.


  • All ATV sit-astride quad bike drivers must be trained and wear suitable head protection in accordance to Agriculture Information Sheet (AIS) 33. Exhibitors should be able to prove competence upon request.
  • All FLT drivers must be certificated for the type of truck they are operating. Loading and unloading areas should be sited away from public areas to avoid unauthorised access and well away from any overhead power lines. Lifting strops/ropes/chains must be suitable for use.
  • Demonstration drivers must be trained in the use of the machine they operating and briefed on their use in areas of public access. The driver should be aware of when to stop the machine if a visitor strays into an area of danger, eg drum mowers should not be started/used with visitors standing in the uncut crop.
  • Members of the public must not be allowed to operate machinery in the demonstration areas; a working demonstration is not a training event. If manufacturers wish to allow access to visitors to drive their equipment then a separate demarcated area should be provided in which pedestrians are prohibited. Visitors must then be adequately briefed.


  • A passenger is allowed in a cab if a seat is provided and their presence does not distract or otherwise interfere with the driver and the safe operation of the vehicle. A passenger would be acceptable in a tractor cab for cultivation events but would not be acceptable where the driver requires full concentration to operate the machine, eg no passenger in the cab of a self-propelled forage harvester.
  • Exhibitors may wish to construct viewing platforms on trailed equipment. If a viewing platform is provided it should offer the same degree of safety to that of a working platform. The use of CCTV cameras and monitors etc may negate the need for visitors to ride on machines. Overcrowding should be avoided. The platform should be marked with the number of people it has been designed to carry. This should be monitored by the event safety officer.
  • AIS 36 gives the standards required for trailers being used to carry visitors around the site.
  • Under no circumstances should passengers be carried on cab steps, drawbars or other linkages etc.

Visitor control

The level of visitor control required will depend on the type of equipment being demonstrated and the numbers of visitors expected. There are a variety of control methods and the option chosen will coincide with the risk assessment undertaken by the exhibitor and/or organiser.

  • Roping or barriers: for high risk areas such as turning points, adjacent to main visitor walkways, loading/unloading areas.
  • Timed demonstrations: eg arena areas (such as seen at spray and sprayers events) could be suitable for popular national events.
  • Stewards: walking at a safe distance alongside machine to maintain a safe distance for visitors.

Exhibitors/organisers should also take into account the types of visitors expected, eg age of visitors, children with parents, foreign language visitors etc.

Machinery guarding

  • Machinery being demonstrated must meet the requirements of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 and the Supply of Machinery (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (SMS Regulations) or the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) depending on whether it is new or used.
  • Particular attention should be paid to PTO shaft guarding. BS EN ISO 4254-1:2009 Agricultural machinery. Safety. General requirements, sets out the overlap (at least 50 mm) required between PTO shaft guards and the fixed guard on the machine. These standards must be adhered to for both front and rear mounted equipment.
  • Directly imported machinery may require special attention; particularly if its source is outside of the EU. Past experience has shown PTO shaft guarding and stand off guarding to be the main cause for concern.

Static machinery

  • Static machinery may be displayed with guards missing provided that the exhibitor has a sign pointing out to visitors that certain guards are not fitted.
  • All raised components must be securely supported by mechanical means. Under no circumstances should raised components rely solely on hydraulic pressure to remain in position. Organisers should make this requirement clear to all exhibitors.


For further advice please contact OPSTD Agriculture, Waste and Recycling Sector - Agriculture Safety Team - HSE Nottingham Office.

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Updated 2023-02-16