Agricultural activities (tractor driving)


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Guideline review date: 28 October 2021

​This guideline is provided to support schools in implementing the managing risks in school curriculum activities procedure.

The CARA planner must be used for the specific school context in conjunction with this guideline considering additional risks, hazards and controls and including environmental, facility, equipment and student considerations.

For activities beyond the scope of this guideline, complete a CARA record using the CARA generic template.

Activity scope

This guideline relates to students driving tractors (including front-end loaders) under the direct supervision of a licenced adult supervisor as an activity to support curriculum delivery. Tractor refers to a motor vehicle primarily designed to provide power or movement to an attached machine or implement by any transmission shaft (power take-off [PTO]), belt or linkage system.

Note: This activity does not include the use of earthmoving or harvesting machinery.

Depending on the scope of this activity, other risk assessments may be required when planning. Curriculum activities encompassing more than one CARA guideline (e.g. a​gricultural activities (light vehicles, towing and trailers)​ when tractor driving) must comply with the requirements of all CARA guidelines appropriate to the activity.

For activities conducted at a non-Department of Education venue, and/or when engaging external expertise, request written risk assessment advice and attach it to this CARA record.​

For activities conducted off-site, schools must comply with the school excursions procedure.​

Risk level​​​​

High risk
Instructing tractor driving on solid level terrain, with or without a trailer, with no implements and with limited reversing.
Extreme risk
Instructing tractor driving on hazardous terrain (rough, boggy or sloping) with or without a trailer, reversing and using implements (e.g. front-end loaders and rear-mounted PTO implements).

Activity requirements

If any requirement cannot be met, the activity must not occur.

If any other safety recommendation cannot be met, modify the activity (or elements of it) and/or identify and use the hierarchy of controls to implement alternative control measures to meet or exceed the minimum safety standard.

All risk levels.

Reference to the children and young workers code of practice 2006 (PDF, 436KB), the Worksafe serious about farm safety guide and the hazardous manual tasks code of practice 2011 (PDF, 1.5MB) is required when planning this activity.

The standard operating procedures (SOP) for equipment and machinery resources must be followed.

Permission/permits are required to be obtained from land managers (e.g. local councils or private landholders) if applicable.

Parents/carers must be informed about the necessity of relevant vaccinations (e.g. Q fever).

Students must be 15 years or older to operate power take-off (PTO) implements and over 16 years or older to refuel vehicles.

Ensure instructors do not stand on the tractor stepping plates while teaching students to drive and are able to operate the controls of the tractor to immediately render it immobile in an emergency. Consider fitting remote immobilisation switch to tractors.

Ensure passengers do not ride on tractors unless seated in a proper passenger seat, including when operating in ‘creep-mode’ (idling at low speed).


Parent consent (DOCX, 306KB) is required for all activities conducted off-site as well as extreme risk activities, and also strongly recommended for high risk activities conducted on-site.​


Principals make final supervision decisions for the activity. Sufficient adult supervision must be provided to manage the activity safely (including emergency situations).

The number of adult supervisors required to fulfil emergency and supervision roles must consider the nature of the activity, students' ages, abilities and specialised learning, access and/or health needs.

Before the activity, all adult supervisors:

  • must be familiar with the contents of the CARA record
  • must assess weather conditions prior to undertaking the activity, inspecting the intended location in order to identify variable risks, hazards and potential dangers (e.g. dampen dust during high wind, control slipping hazards after rain).

During the activity, all adult supervisors:

  • must be readily identifiable
  • must closely monitor students with health support needs
  • must provide direct supervision and guidance to students at all times when operating a tractor
  • must comply with control measures from the CARA record and adapt as hazards arise
  • must suspend the activity if the conditions become unfavourable (e.g. poor visibility, extreme temperatures, thunderstorms)
  • must not allow students under 15 years of age to operate power take-off (PTO) implements
  • must not allow students under 16 years of age to refuel vehicles.

Supervisor qualifications

Principals make final decisions in determining supervisor capability (competence, relevance and currency) and are responsible for encouraging and enabling school-based activity supervisors to raise their qualifications to improve safety standards.

All adult supervisors must comply with the working with children authority—Blue Cards procedure and be able to identify, and respond to, risks or hazards that may emerge during the activity.

A registered teacher must be appointed to maintain overall responsibility for the activity.

Adult supervisors must be licensed with either class UD licence or class C open licence.

For high risk activities:

For extreme risk activities:

  • At least one adult supervisor is required to be:
    • a registered teacher with competence (knowledge and skills) in the operation and/or driving instruction of tractors and experience with any associated trailers, PTO implements and rural plant and qualifications (e.g. Certificate III in Agriculture or Certificate III in Rural Machinery Operations or similar) or another method determined by the principal; or
    • an adult supervisor, working under the direct supevision of a registered teacher, with competence (knowledge and skills) in the operation and/or driving instruction of tractors and experience with any associated trailers, PTO implements and rural plant and qualifications (e.g. Certificate IV in Agriculture or similar) or another method determined by the principal.

Facilities and equipment

All rural plant (e.g. tractor, front-end loader) must comply with Australian Standards, safe design and operation of tractors code of practice 2005 (PDF, 524KB), rural plant code of practice 2004 (PDF, 659KB), the tractor safety operating procedure and agricultural science plant and equipment standard operating procedures.

Tractors must be fitted with suitable roll-over protective structure (ROPS) and a seatbelt, and used when in operation.

Consider fitting tractors with a remote immobilisation switch that is immediately accessible by the adult supervisor during the activity.

Ensure tractors are fitted with reversing beepers and warning lights.

Consult chemicals in curriculum activities for support in assessing the risks of chemicals used with/by students in curriculum activities.

If a CARA record is required in OneSchool, a summary of chemicals, plant, equipment and/or materials used in the activity must be provided by entering directly onto the CARA record in OneSchool or by attaching a summary. Sample templates are provided on chemicals in curriculum activities and plant, equipment and materials in curriculum activities.

Location must be suitable for the activity being undertaken. Undertake a reconnaissance of new or infrequently used locations to ascertain suitability. Plan to avoid hazardous terrain (e.g. slopes, hillsides, depressions and embankments) to reduce the possibility of tractor roll-over. If difficult terrains are unavoidable, provide prior instruction on appropriate techniques to traverse the terrain.

Participants must wear personal protective equipment appropriate to the activity (e.g. appropriate enclosed footwear [steel cap boots when relevant], hearing protection, safety glasses with Australian Standard specification, breathing protection [e.g. mask] to protect against airborne particles, high visibility workwear or vests).

Equipment must be sized to match the ability and strength of students.

Agricultural machinery must conform to Australian Standards, be fit for purpose, in good working order, properly maintained and used in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions and relevant codes of practice, and safe operating procedures (SOP).

A maintenance schedule (e.g. checking for damage, repairing) must be established and enacted for all plant and equipment used in the activity. Consult Equipment Maintenance Records (EMR) and Plant/Equipment Risk Assessments (PERA) documents.

A retirement schedule must be developed to replace plant and equipment by manufacturers' nominated expiry date or when significant wear causes a hazard.

A process for checking for damage for all equipment used in the activity (e.g. PTO implements, shaft, universal joints, guards, warning device/horn) must be established and employed.

If privately owned equipment is being used, principal approval and owner consent/insurance details must be obtained prior to the activity.

 Hazards and controls

Further to those listed, include any additional hazards and control measures considering the local context of the activity.

Environmental hazards Control measures

Animal bites/diseases
Stings, poisoning, infection

Ensure the location is clear of obstacles and wildlife (e.g. snakes) that may pose hazards.

Control allergen and disease risks associated with working with animals and with dust, dry matter and airborne organisms in stockyards (e.g. Q fever).

Environmental conditions
Weather, surfaces, surrounds

The school's sun safety strategy must be followed.

Follow the managing excessive heat in schools guidelines when participating in very hot or extreme heat conditions.

Drink breaks to occur regularly. Make water available for individual participants between drink breaks.

Descend slopes cautiously with tractor in low gear.

Facilities and equipment hazards Control measures


Ensure the driving area is free of equipment so that it does not pose potential hazards.

Tools, plant and equipment

Manage the risks of the tractor and any attachments using the guide for managing the risks of machinery in rural workplaces.

Ensure all participants only approach a vehicle with the explicit and immediate consent of the driver and instructor if the ignition is engaged.

Ensure the tractor is stationary before anyone approaches the tractor and when equipment is hitched (e.g. on solid terrain, the engine switched off/safe park mode with brakes applied).

Ensure machinery is not left with the engine running without adult supervision.

If a tractor attachment becomes blocked, stop the tractor, disconnect the drive to the attachment and stop all moving parts before clearing any obstruction.

Ensure keys and starting devices are removed from tractor when not in use and stored in a separate locked location.

Heat sources

Assess and control risks associated when rural plant parts become hot (e.g. tractor exhaust system).

Hazardous substances
Corrosive, flammable, carcinogenic, volatile chemicals

Ensure all chemicals required for the decontamination processes are arranged in advance and are readily available.

Refuel the vehicle safely (e.g. in a well-ventilated area, when the engine is cold, maintain contact between the metal outlet of the refuelling hose and the fuel tank to discharge static electricity).


Consult the managing noise in manual arts/industrial technology and design workshops fact sheet.

Student considerations Control measures


Students aware of the location of emergency and first-aid equipment.

Manual handling
Lifting equipment

Use correct manual handling processes when lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or carrying.

Ensure appropriate lifting equipment is used to lift heavy objects or materials.

Slips, trips and falls

Assess and manage potential fall, trip and crushing hazards (e.g. surfaces with poor footing, obstacles, high loads). Consult the preventing slips, trips and falls fact sheet.

Assess and manage risks associated with working at heights.

Student issues
Student numbers, special needs, high risk behaviours, medical conditions

Non-participants kept clear of the tractor driving area and where pinch/crush hazards exist.

Students supervised in a safe location when not actively receiving instruction.


Have students wear easily identifiable clothing.

Ensure staff can easily recognise those students with health support needs and are familiar with their needs.


This information is developed and distributed on this website by the State of Queensland for use by Queensland state schools only.

Use or adaptation of, or reliance on, this information by persons or organisations other than the State of Queensland is at their sole risk. All users who use, adapt or rely on this information are responsible for ensuring by independent verification its accuracy, currency and appropriateness to their particular circumstances. The State of Queensland makes no representations, either express or implied, as to the suitability of this information to a user's particular circumstances.

To the full extent permitted by law, the State of Queensland disclaims all responsibility and liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages and costs arising from the use or adaptation of, or reliance on, this information.

Links to external websites are for convenience only and the State of Queensland has not independently verified the information on the linked websites. It is the responsibility of users to make their own decisions about the accuracy, currency, reliability and correctness of the information at these external websites.

Last updated 13 July 2022