Tractor Safety 24/07/2007

Tractor safety is deceiving; their slow moving bulk that generally stays off road and doesn’t come in contact with many other obstacles can mean a misguided sense of safety. But with 250 fatalities a year, tractor traders and tractor operators should be just as wary when operating these big boys of farm machinery as their own car they drive.

In Ohio, one of the most farmed states, roughly 11 Iowans died between 2003 and 2005 in overturned tractor accidents. So for the newbie to the tractor game and for those of us who are old hands, here are some gentle reminders on tractor safety.

The three biggest dangers while operating a tractor are; Tractor roll over, entanglement in power takeoff (PTO) shaft, tire fires. All these can be minimized by taking simple but necessary precautions.

-Wearing a seatbelt

-Keeping the shield over the PTO, Power takeoff Shaft

-Maintaining proper tire inflation

-Using flashers and headlights while driving on roads

-Use the same gear to pull a load downhill as uphill

These are just a basic checklist but there is of course more to it.

When driving a tractor, operators should avoid ditches, embankments and holes, says Subodh Kulkarni, an engineer with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. The idea is that operating the tractor smoothly, no jerks, no sudden starts will insure stability.

For more information, see Safe Tractor Operation, FSA1026, available online at The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the U of A Division of Agriculture.

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