Preventing Tractor AccidentsJuan Aldaz
Tractor accidents are still the top causes of farm injuries and deaths. We can minimize those risks with these common sense practices on tractor safety:
The two most common types of tractor accidents are overturns and runovers. As the name suggests, overturns occur when a tractor becomes unbalanced and flips or rolls over, often when on a slope, ditch bank or when pulling an unbalanced or oversized load. Runovers indicate a person being run over by a tractor. These tragedies can happen when someone falls off a moving tractor or starts the tractor in gear while standing on the ground. People nearby are also run over when the operator can’t see them.
There are also other types of tractor-related accidents like:
- Wrist, arm, hip, leg, and ankle injuries as a result of falling while mounting or dismounting the steps of the tractor.
- Injury and amputations while cleaning, servicing, adjusting, repairing, installing or removing an attachment, or getting entangled in the tractor power take-off [PTO].
- Electrocution and burns from working beneath overhead electricity power lines
- Driving at too high a speed / not maintaining a safe speed – Approximately one-fifth of accidents occur going to and from the field or work area.
- Negligence by inexperienced operators.
- Unsafe operation of the tractor or fatigue on the side of the operator.
- Pedestrian inattentiveness near tractors or slipping in front of tractors.
- Passengers riding along with no seat or place to hold on.
- Drivers misjudging slopes, ignoring changing ground conditions and forgetting the effect of loads on stability.
- Failure to Obey the Rules of the Road.
- Overloading of trailers.
- Other vehicles crashing into slow moving tractors driving at sunset / night where tractors are not clearly visible.
- Lack of protection/cover for the tractor power take-off [PTO].
- General Tractor Safety Suggestions
- Learn proper safety practices, like three-point mounting/dismounting procedures.
- Make sure work instructions are clear and understandable
- Restrict the number of people around equipment
- Always act as if the driver of equipment can’t see you
- Consider adding a backup camera
- Safety Prevention for Overturns
- Ensure tractors are equipped with a roll bar (ROPS) and seatbelts
- Use seatbelts on roll bar-equipped tractors
- Use the right type of equipment for the job
- Safety Prevention for Runovers
- No extra riders
- Keep children and others away from work area
- Keep bypass shields on starters and electrical systems in good working order
- Start engine from operator’s seat and avoid bypass starting
- Shut down equipment, turn off engine, remove key and wait for moving parts to
- stop before getting off the tractor
- Use ROPS and seatbelts to prevent falls or being ejected from the tractor
- Consider adding a safe tractor access platform to the tractor
If you have are working in agriculture you probably know someone who has been killed or injured in a tractor accident. If not (or if you want to impress the importance of safety to youth workers), the National Agriculture Tractor Safety Initiative’s webpage has over a dozen true stories of tractor accidents written by survivors or the families of those who didn’t make it.
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