March brings out the tractor on many farms. Did you know that tractor accidents are responsible for nearly 50% of deaths and injuries among agricultural workers each year? Most accidents are avoidable with proper attention to safety.
Before operating your tractor become thoroughly familiar the content in the operators’ manual and the tractor. Learn the location and operation of each control and attachment before use. Be certain you understand how to quickly stop the tractor and the attachments. Avoid getting in a rush and consult the manual if you have questions. Re-familiarize yourself with harvesting equipment each season.
Securely attach safety equipment to the tractor. Attach equipment to the drawbar only. Use the protective shields for the power take-off at all times and replaced if damaged. Include items such as a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and a tool kit for minor repairs. Safety decals and signs should be clearly visible and replaced as needed.
Wear close-fitting clothes. Secure long hair close to the head and avoid loose clothing that can be entangled in moving parts. Wear safety goggles or sunglasses, hearing protection, work gloves, and shoes or boots with non-skid soles and steel toes. To prevent entanglements, shut down equipment, turn off the engine, remove the key and wait for all moving parts to stop before working on the tractor or getting off the tractor. Adjust the seat to reach controls comfortably.
Start an important new tradition on your farm. No tractor riders, no children or non-agriculture workers in the work area, and no children under the age of 12 operating the tractor. All operators should be mature, sober and possess the needed physical and mental skills. Be informed of your obligations to thoroughly train agricultural workers for safe operation according to the Occupational Safety and Health Association, and state laws.
Maintain your tractor and use a daily maintenance checklist for best performance. Protect your investment by checking fluid levels (hydraulic and engine oil, brake and radiator), tire pressure and belts. Check the brakes and check for leaks. Replace fluids and refuel using products and procedures recommended in the operator’s manual. Resist the urge to improvise.
Be sure to scan the environment for debris that could become a missile-like foreign object and stationary objects such as stumps that could damage the tractor. Use a caution after heavy rains, look for hidden ditches, and slow down when approaching turns or slopes to avoid tipping or rollover accident with your tractor.
Rollover tractor accidents are the most deadly. Roll bars and rollover protective structures (ROPs) with seat belts greatly reduce deaths and severity of injuries and should always be used. See your dealer to get your tractor retrofitted for ROPs.
Occasionally it is necessary to travel on public roads. Secure a slow moving emblem on the tractor. Observe all local laws regarding transport such as use of warning flags, reflectors, lights and signals. Share the road by pulling over and allowing traffic to pass by. To avoid collisions drive slowly and maintain control of the tractor at all times. Stay off the shoulder and travel during daylight hours whenever possible.
Safety is something that begins in our thoughts and practiced daily becomes habit. Let’s get in the habit of thinking daily about safety!
– Kim Vickous, MSN, RN
Iowa State University. (n.d.). Tractor safety tips. Retrieved from http://www.ehs.iastate.edu/occupational/farms/tractor-tips
National Agricultural Tractor Safety Initiative. (n.d.). Prevention. Retrieved from http://depts.washington.edu/trsafety/prevention.php#resources
United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Agricultural operations. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/agriculturaloperations/vehiclehazards.html