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How to safely operate a rotavator

Cultivating soil is back-breaking work. It refers to the process of digging over the soil and aerating it as you do so. It’s fine to do this by hand on a small patch of ground, but if you are planning to dig over a larger area, a rotavator is a useful tool to have. It also saves you time and backache!

While a rotavator might be used in some domestic situations, it is far more likely to be used by professional gardeners, landscapers and other employees who work in this industry. It can be used in all kinds of projects, both for private clients and for businesses who require their grounds to be landscaped.

What is a rotavator?

A rotavator is a piece of gardening equipment designed to churn up the ground. It gets air into the soil and prepares the ground for whatever it will be used for. For example, a landscaper might be clearing an area ready to lay turf, or to design a new garden from scratch.

Rotavators come in various sizes. They are all reasonably compact and are designed to be operated by hand. The smaller models will have a lower horse power than the larger ones. They may also have just one or two small wheels. In contrast, larger and more robust rotavators will have two chunky tyres, better able to navigate across muddy ground. They may also be more powerful with a greater horse power than other models.

Making sure you’re safe when using a rotavator

This is one of the most important things to bear in mind. The Health and Safety Executive points out there are three elements to think of when operating mobile machinery used in agriculture and gardening:

  • Proper use of the controls
  • Safe maintenance undertaken only when the machinery is switched off and safe
  • Proper training to ensure the user knows how to work the machinery

This applies to all forms of machinery used in agriculture and associated industries, not just to a rotavator. When an accident does occur, it very often turns out it could have been prevented if appropriate safety procedures had been in place beforehand.

Essential safety tips

The HSE has released a leaflet exploring various elements of working safely with machinery such as a rotavator. The advice in the leaflet also applies to larger machinery, not just to mobile machinery. It lists seven reasons why accidents often occur in these situations.

If you are going to use a rotavator, make sure you bear the following points in mind:

  1. Do you know how to use it?
  2. Proper training will ensure you understand how the machine you are going to use works. Remember, different makes and models may not all be identical, even though they do the same job.
  3. Do you have the proper safety equipment?
  4. In this case, personal protective equipment (PPE) can make all the difference between completing the job safely and suffering an injury. Steel toe-capped boots are just one example of PPE that could prevent any mishaps. A rotavator has sharp blades that can easily cut through your foot if you’re not using it carefully and responsibly. Gloves and other protective equipment might also be required.

  5. Is the rotavator safe to use?
  6. A rotavator should be checked before every use. If you hire one, the hire company is responsible for ensuring it is fit for purpose before they hire it to you. If your employer provides the rotavator, they are responsible for carrying out the appropriate checks. However, it’s still a good idea to check it over yourself and to make sure you are happy to use it.

  7. Is the ground you are going to work on safe?
  8. Assess the ground you will use the equipment on before you start using it. Is it uneven? Are there any potential hazards in the ground that could pose a problem if the rotavator strikes them as you are moving along? If you are on a slope, you could lose your balance and fall, resulting in a potentially serious accident if the equipment falls on you.

As you can see, there are several elements to be aware of before you start using one of these rotavators to do landscaping or cultivating work in any location.

Was someone else responsible for your injury?

You may have found this article because you were searching for advice about trying to claim compensation following an accident while working in the landscaping or agricultural industry. Research has indicated that while accidents are rare, the amenity horticultural industry has experienced fatal accidents at about the same rate as the construction industry, even though the latter is generally regarded as one of the most dangerous industries in the country today. Between 2001 and 2009, at least 23 deaths occurred in this industry.

We all recognise that prevention of accidents is better than dealing with the consequences when something goes wrong. Most people use rotavators without incident, but taking a few essential precautions is the best way to ensure you don’t become just another statistic. Injuries that could potentially be caused by rotavators could be serious, and may even lead to stopping work.

Could we help?

Accident Advice Helpline has been working for over 16 years to assist people who have been injured in accidents they did not cause. If you’ve received injuries while using a rotavator recently (i.e. within the past three years), contact us now to find out whether a no win no fee claim could be started on your behalf.

We have solicitors handling other claims on this basis already, and we can let you know whether your case may result in a compensation award being agreed for you. Learn more now – ring us on 0800 689 5659. Don’t leave it too late – we can provide the answers you need when you’ve been injured through negligence, either from using sub-standard hired equipment or because of negligence from your employer.