Avoiding Harm on the Farm - Tractor Safety

Farming is one of the most hazardous occupations. The statistics tell the tale.
One of the most common causes of injury and death is the unsafe use of
equipment. These injuries can be prevented by taking necessary safety
precautions. Farm owners are responsible for the safety of their workers. They
must ensure that employees and family workers are trained on the proper and
safe ways to do their jobs. The risk of injury and illness can be reduced by
taking preventive steps such as conducting routine hazard checks on equipment,
buildings and grounds - and correcting problems immediately.

Follow these tips when working with or around farm equipment:

  • Read and follow the operator's safety manual and product labels for each
    piece of farm equipment being used.

  • Ensure that workers have been trained and are capable of safely using the
    farm equipment.

  • Be alert. Get enough rest, take breaks as needed and do not drink alcohol
    before operating equipment.

  • Keep children away from the working area.

  • Ensure all guards, shields, and access doors are in place when the equipment
    is in operation. If they must be removed for any reason, ensure that the
    equipment is not operated until they are put back on. Replace any missing or
    damaged guards or shields.

  • Always stop the engine, disconnect the power source, and wait for all moving
    parts to stop, before servicing, adjusting, cleaning, or unclogging equipment.
    Allow the engine to cool before refuelling.

General Tractor Safety

Tractors are the single biggest causes of deaths and injuries on the farm, with
tractor roll overs and runovers causing almost half of all farm fatalities.
Keep safety in mind at all times and follow these guidelines to safely work
with tractors:

  • Know how to use the tractor safely. Know the location and function of the
    controls and how to stop the tractor quickly in the event of an emergency.

  • Properly train and supervise new operators before allowing them to drive.

  • Before starting the tractor, inspect the vehicle. Check for parts that might
    have been loosened and tighten or replace any parts that are not in good
    working order. Check the oil and fuel level when the engine is cool.

  • Wear clothing that is snugly fitted so it won't get caught in the machinery,
    and that protects (e.g. steel shank boots, long pants). Use personal protective
    equipment (e.g. eye protection) where necessary.

  • Do not allow riders on a tractor - there should only be one person on board.

  • Install an approved roll over protective structure (ROPS) and seat belt - and
    use them.

  • Place the tractor in neutral or park before starting it, and only start the
    engine from the driver's seat. Never bypass start the engine (operator
    "bypasses" safety procedures and the normal starting system - e.g. touching a
    screwdriver to the starter contacts to activate the engine). This is extremely
    dangerous. There is a risk of losing control of the vehicle and it could hit
    someone - injuring or even killing them.

  • Disengage the gears and turn the engine off before leaving the tractor

  • Hitch loads only to the drawbar - no higher. When using three-point rear
    hitches or hauling heavy loads, add front-end weights to maintain stability and
    control steering.

Driving the Tractor Safely

  • Before starting the tractor, make sure no one is behind, under or in front of

  • When driving the tractor, start slowly, change gears carefully, and when
    pulling a heavy load, apply the power slowly.

  • To avoid rolling the tractor over, stay away from ditches, steep slopes, and

  • Back up hills - it is safer.

  • Slow down when turning, crossing slopes, or driving on rough, slick, or muddy

  • When travelling on the road, or at higher speeds, lock the brake pedals
    together for single action braking.

Further Information - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety