Safer Tractor Operations for Home and Acreage Owners
Special lighting requirements — Covered above under “If Tractor Illumination Is Obscured.”
Special marking requirements — This equipment requires an SMV emblem of its own, visible to the rear.
6) The towed equipment extends more than 16 ft behind the hitch point on the tractor.
Special lighting requirements — Covered above under “If Tractor Illumination Is Obscured.”
Special marking requirements — This equipment requires an SMV emblem of its own, visible to the rear. In addition, the sides of the equipment should be marked with amber or yellow reflectors, spaced every 16 ft maximum. A reflector should be placed as far to the rear on each side as possible.
7) The towed equipment extends more than 25 ft behind the hitch point on the tractor.
Special lighting requirements — This equipment should have its own set of tail lights, warning lights and turn indicators as described above.
C. Loading and Towing
1. Towing Equipment
Make sure that the tractor is properly counterweighted and that all attachments are secure and properly mounted.
Avoid operating attachments during road travel, and keep the power-takeoff lever in neutral.
Make sure that the tractor is large enough to handle its mycams load and hitch the load only to the tractor’s drawbar hitch points. The drawbar is designed for pulling heavy loads without the risk of a backward overturn. If the load is hitched any higher, the tractor can overturn quickly by rotating around the rear axle.
When towing equipment which does not have its own brakes, keep speed under 20 miles per hour. Even though the operator attempts to brake the tractor the equipment will continue to move.
Towed equipment should have brakes if, when fully loaded, it weighs more than one and a half times the weight of the towing unit. Stopping distances increase both with speed and with increased weight of towed loads, as well as on hills and slopes.
When towing equipment with brakes, stay below 25 miles per hour.
Equipment that weighs more that 4.5 times the weight of the towing unit should not be towed.
2. Front-End Loaders
Front-end loaders can make tractors unstable and increase the risk of side overturns.
When using a tractor with a front-end loader, use the wide wheel settings and add rear weights as needed.
Travel with the bucket in a low position and at low speeds, especially when turning or traveling on rough and slippery terrain.
Avoid fast starts and stops.
3. Loading and Unloading Tractors
When loading a tractor onto a trailer or truck, always load it on level, stable ground. Make sure that the truck or trailer cannot move by setting the brakes or blocking the wheels or both. Whenever possible, slowly back the tractor onto the truck or trailer.
Check to see if anyone is behind the tractor or near the trailer during loading.
Make sure ramps are clear of mud, grease, or debris. Make sure they are secure.
Lock the brakes on the tractor and secure it to the trailer with chains and load binders.
Fasten chains and lock and wire load binders so that they can open.
If possible, someone nearby should guide the tractor operator with hand signals.
Check the owner’s manual for specific recommendations.
IV. Miscellaneous Topics
A. Other Tips for Maneuvering
Slow down on turns and curves. A tractor’s turning radius is much smaller than an automobile’s. Taking a curve too fast can cause an overturn or a jackknife, if machinery is attached.
Make sure that maneuvers when entering, turning, or leaving the highway don’t interfere with other traffic.
Keep in mind that towed equipment might swing into the oncoming lane.
Only use the road shoulders when they are stable and well-maintained. Using unstable edges and shoulders can cause a tractor to overturn. Also, driving along the edge can be misleading to motorists. They may pull out to pass just as the tractor re-enters the roadway to avoid a joyourself mailbox or bridge. Remember that many motorists aren’t familiar with tractors or equipment.
To let a line of cars pass, pull over to the side and stop, otherwise a culvert, mailbox, or other hazard might force the tractor to re-enter the roadway while cars are still passing.
B. Hazards of Filling Gas Cans
Vehicle fires sometimes occur while people are filling metal gas cans placed on plastic surfaces. This type of fire usually involves attempting to fill a gas can in the back of a pick-up truck with a plastic bed liner.
Gasoline tends to carry a static electric charge. When pouring gasoline into a can, this charge can build up on the can. If the can is sitting on concrete or on the ground, the static charge can safely flow away. But when the can is sitting on plastic, such as the plastic bed liner in a truck, the static charge can not escape because the plastic is an insulator, that is, it does not conduct electricity. A spark can occur between the can and the fuel nozzle and ignite the gasoline.
When the spark occurs in the flammable range in the gasoline vapor space near the open mouth of the gas can, a fire occurs.
Use only gas cans approved by OSHA and follow these precautions.
Use only an approved container.
Don’t fill any container while it’s inside a vehicle.
Always place the container to be filled on the ground and away from other people and traffic.
Keep the nozzle in contact with the can while filling.
Never use a latch-open device to fill a portable container.
While transporting containers, tie them in place.
C. Steep Slopes
Sometimes a tractor must be operated on a steep slope.
Backing up or driving down slopes can help prevent rear overturns.
If a tractor must be operated across the slope, use the widest possible wheel adjustment, very slow speeds and extra caution in watching for obstacles that the wheels might hit.
Turn the front wheels downhill at the first indication that the tractor may be becoming unstable.
D. What to Do When the Tractor Gets Stuck
Getting stuck is not only embarrassing, but it can also be dangerous.
Always try to back out. Trying to drive forward is dangerous and can result in a rear overturn.
If backing out isn’t possible, get towed out forward by hitching to the tractor frame.
If the tractor must be towed out backward, hitch only to the drawbar.
When towing, use a chain or steel cable and tighten it slowly. Do not use a nylon rope because it can stretch and break, then snap back, resulting in serious injury or death. These have snapped back throwing the cable hook through the cab window, killing the operator.
Often, someone who is nearby and may be a relatively inexperienced operator is called upon to assist in pulling out stuck equipment. The tractor doing the pulling is actually doing the riskier operation, which could very quickly result in a rear overturn.
E. Used Equipment
The condition of equipment sold at auctions or transferred from person to person varies widely, so it’s important to examine used equipment carefully. Be informed before you buy of the safety equipment that should be present on the machinery you wish to buy.
When equipment is purchased through a dealership, the purchase usually includes a warranty, directions for maintenance and operation, warning, “seals of approval” and assurances that the equipment conforms with voluntary or federal standards.
Regardless of where equipment is bought, look for items that may detract from safety, such as missing shields and poor upkeep.
A bargain price may not be worth the risks involved. Don’t be blinded by a “sale” and end up with below-standard equipment that can’t do the job or that puts the operator at risk.
Consider the following questions when buying used equipment.
Are operating manuals included?
Are shields and guards in place?
Is the equipment in decent condition? Breakdowns due to poor maintenance could cause unsafe working conditions.
If buying a tractor, is it equipped with a ROPS? If it isn’t, determine who’s responsible for paying for and making sure it’s installed. Remember, tractors manufactured after October 1976 that are used by employees are required to have ROPS and seat belts per OSHA Standard 1928.51 (Roll-over protective structures (ROPS) for tractors used in agricultural operations).
F. Hand Signals
Hand signals have been developed to provide a uniform means of communication between people on the ground and equipment operators. They are especially useful when noise, distance, or language barriers make voice communication difficult.
G. Handling Large Hay Bales
When moving large bales, remember: Low and Slow. Avoid sudden movements and turns which can easily cause the tractor to overturn. The higher the loader is raised, the higher the center of gravity, and the easier the tractor will overturn.
Only use equipment, such as a grapple hook or bale spike, that is designed to be used with your tractor model for bale transport.
Placing a bale in a regular tractor bucket and anchoring with a chain is not adequate. Bales, especially if wet and thus very heavy, can snap the chain. The bale then rolls down the liveprivates loader arms and crushes the operator. If the bale remains on the tractor, it may catch fire from exposure to hot engine components. The trapped operator will then be burned.
V. Tractor Operator Checklist
An operator checklist is provided at the end of this publication ( Table 5 ). Even though this checklist was originally designed for employers, it applies to anyone who operates a tractor.
The checklist can be used as is, or it may be modified to better meet your specific needs.
VI. How Much Do You Know? Pre-Post Test on Tractor Safety
Testing operators before and after presenting the information in this publication can make their learning efforts more successful. You can use the sample Pre-Post Test as it is, or you may wish to make up your own custom test which covers a specific area in detail or to provide new questions.
We recommend that your Pre-Post Test include no more than ten or fifteen questions.
Sample Pre-Post Test
A copy of the sample test without the answer key can be found at the end of this publication in Table 6 .
1. Most injuries to tractor operators are preventable. True or False.
2. The safety features on modern tractors can protect the operator from anything. True or False.
3. Shortcuts usually save very little time while increasing danger to the operator. True or False.
4. A ROPS will prevent a tractor overturn. True or False.
5. How often should oil, fuel, and other fluid levels be checked?
6. Discomfort is: A) A normal part of work which keeps the operator alert and makes him work harder, or B) Something that tires and distracts the operator and can make work less safe.
7. Extra riders on tractors are often injured in what way?
8. At what level should warning lights be placed on tractors and other equipment for operation on public roads? A) As low as possible, B) Motorist’s eye level, C) as high as possible.
9. The majority of tractor-automobile collisions occur: A) during wet weather, B) at night, C) on dry days in broad daylight.
10. The faster you are driving the less likely you are to jackknife. True or False.
Answers — 1. True; 2. False; 3. True; 4. False; 5. Daily; 6. B; 7. Fall off tractor and are run over; 8. B; 9. C; 10. False.
Additional Pre-Post Test Questions
1. Loose clothing is a special danger near a PTO. True or False. (True)
2. Agriculture-related injuries are often made worse because injured workers in isolated areas may have to wait a long time for help. True or False. (True)
3. A seat belt will hold you in the “zone of protection” provided by a ROPS. True or False. (True)
4. Seat belts are not needed for short drives. True or False. (False)
5. Over half of agricultural fatalities result from operating what device? (Tractors)
6. Most injuries to tractor operators are preventable. True or False. (True)
7. It is better to think about safety: A) before an incident, B) after an incident. (A)
8. What are the three major elements to consider in developing safer tractor operations? (The environment, the tractor, and the tractor operator)
9. When we can not control the environment, greater safety results from modifying our____? (Operations)
10. The safety features on modern tractors can protect the operator from anything. True or False. (False)
11. What is the recommended minimum distance from an embankment to operate machinery? (A distance equal to the mytrannycams depth of the embankment is the minimum recommended distance.)
12. Wet or sandy soil makes an embankment more dangerous. True or False. (True)
13. What does ROPS stand for? (Roll-over protective structure)
14. A ROPS will prevent a tractor overturn. True or False. (False)
15. Increased tractor power makes what dangers more likely? (Rear overturns, side overturns, loss of control)
16. Always wear a seat belt when operating a tractor equipped with a ROPS. True or False. (True)
17. Wide wheel adjustments make a tractor safer to operate. True or False. (True)
18. Never check for a hydraulic leak with what? (Your hand)
19. Shortcuts usually save very little time while increasing danger to the operator. True or False. (True)
20. When possible, making one operator responsible for a tractor is the best system. True or False. (True)
21. What is the minimum age at which employees may operate a tractor? (16)
22. When a tractor is not in use, any hydraulic equipment attached to it should be in what position? (Lowered)
23. What symptom can indicate exposure to carbon monoxide? (Headache)
24. Supervisors have the responsibility of seeing that all tractor operators have a complete understanding of all instructions and rules. True or False. (True)
25. Small rewards — such as a meal, a local merchant gift certificate, or cash bonus — presented monthly, can be effective in promoting safety. True or False. (True)
26. Slow-moving vehicle emblems are to be used for equipment traveling less than ___ mph. (25)
27. How often should you check oil, fuel, and other fluid levels? (Daily)
28. How often should you check for any oil, fuel or fluid leaks? (Daily)
29. How often should you check tire condition and inflation levels? (Daily)
30. How often should you check that platforms and steps are clean and free of debris and tools? (Daily)
31. How often should you check to see that lights, brakes and the steering mechanism are working properly? (Daily)
32. How often should you check that all gauges are giving proper readings and that the engine, transmission, and hydraulic system aren’t making any unusual sounds? (Daily)
33. How can you determine what special pre-operation checks a tractor might require? (Review the maintenance manual for the tractor.)
34. When you’re angry, you should not operate a tractor. True or False. (True)
35. List personal protective equipment that might be needed when operating a tractor. (Respirator, eye and ear protection, protective clothing, head gear, gloves and boots)
36. Smoking is dangerous around what materials? (Gasoline or other fuels, as when fueling the tractor; dry materials; or pesticides)
37. Discomfort is: A) A normal part of work which keeps the operator alert and makes him work harder, or B) Something that tires and distracts the operator and can make work less safe. (B)
38. When you are exhausted, you should: A) Push through to get the job done, or B) Stop working until you are rested. (B)
39. Impatience promotes: A) Productivity, or B) Dangerous work habits. (B)
40. Dangerous work habits can result in injury to more than the operator. True or False. (True)
41. The few extra seconds taken to do a job safely are: A) more or B) less than the time taken to recover from an injury. (B)
42. Extra riders on tractors are often injured in what way? (They fall off tractor and are run over.)
43. If you’ve done something many times without incident, it must not be dangerous. True or False. (False)
44. A ROPS makes a tractor safer for an extra rider. True or False. (False)
45. It is easier to fall out of an enclosed cab than most people think. True or False. (True)
46. What is the stopping distance for a tractor going 10 miles per hour, under ideal conditions? (30 ft.)
47. Tradition is the best guide to safe practice. True or False. (False)
48. According to the National Safety Council, what percentage of tractor-related deaths occur on public roads? (1/3)
49. What time of day is best for moving tractors and equipment on public roads: a) daytime, when visibility is good, or b) nighttime when traffic is likely to be less. (A)
50. Correct marking and lighting of tractors and other farm equipment are very important when these vehicles must operate on public roads. What is the most basic required marking device required for public road travel? (SMV or Slow-moving vehicle emblem)
51. What marking device is recommended for application to all sides of equipment for public road travel? (Reflective tape)
52. At what level should warning lights be placed on tractors and other equipment for operation on public roads? (Eye level of motorists)
53. Tractor brakes are capable of stopping a tractor under all circumstances? True or False (False)
54. Name a common road condition where traveling in a low gear makes braking more effective? (Traveling up or down hills)
55. An escort vehicle may be required by law if a tractor together with any towed equipment is excessively A) wide, B) Long C) High D) Any of the above. (D)
56. In Florida, State law specifies what vehicles may be used as escorts. True or False. (True)
57. What simple precaution can make lighting on tractors and equipment more effective? (Cleaning)
58. A motorist may try to pass your tractor just when you are preparing to turn left. What action on your part might encourage a motorist to make this mistake? (Swinging to the right to make a wide left turn)
59. How can the classic “Left-turn collision” scenario be avoided? (Installation of extension mirrors and using turn signals)
60. The majority of tractor-automobile collisions occur: A) during wet weather, B) at night, C) on dry days in broad daylight. (C)
61. As a rule of thumb, what is the maximum weight a tractor may tow? (Up to 4.5 times its own weight)
62. Towed loads which are hitched above a tractor’s drawbar can cause what kind of incident? (Rear overturn)
63. Front-end loaders can make tractors unstable and subject to what kind of incident? (Side overturns)
64. Filling a metal gas can with gasoline increases the static electricity on the can. True or False. (True)
65. The static electricity that builds up on a metal can when it is being filled with gasoline can cause dangerous sparking if the can is sitting on an insulating livejasmin surface, such as a plastic bed liner. True or False. (True)
66. Long hair is a special danger near a PTO. True or False. (True)
67. The small turning radius of a tractor makes jackknifing more likely. True or False. (True)
68. The faster you are driving the less likely you are to jackknife. True or False. (False)
69. It is generally safer for tractor/ towed equipment combos to drive on the shoulder as much as possible. True or False. (False)
70. Driving your tractor/towed equipment combination on the road shoulder can cause unexpected hazards. True or False. (True)
71. To let a line of cars pass you should: A) simply wave them around, B) pull over into the shoulder and keep moving) or C) pull over and stop. (C)
72. Any metal container is safe for carrying gasoline. True or False. (False)
73. You should always take a second to secure a gasoline container when transporting it. True or False (True)
74. Always keep the nozzle of a gasoline hose in contact with the can while filling. True or False. (True)
75. Using a latch-open device to fill a portable gasoline container can lead to very dangerous spills. True or False. (True)
76. A tractor is more stable on a slope when the front wheels are A) upslope or B) doswnslope from the rear wheels. (Downslope)
77. Driving up a slope in a tractor makes what incident more likely? (Rear overturn)
78. If you sense that the tractor you are operating is becoming unstable, turn the front wheels downhill. True or False. (True)
79. If your tractor gets stuck, what is the first tactic you should try in an effort to get out? (Backing up)
80. Backing up when your tractor is stuck can prevent what incident? (Rear overturn)
81. If backing out a stuck tractor doesn’t work, what’s the next thing to try? (Tow it out using a front hitch)
82. When pulling a stuck tractor using a rear hitch, to what device on the tractor should you connect? (Drawbar)
83. When towing use only steel cable or chain. True or False. (True)
84. Nylon tow ropes have been known to break when in use, snap back, and kill the tractor operator. True or False. (True)
85. When pulling out stuck equipment, whose job is riskier: A) The operator of the stuck equipment or B) the operator of the tow vehicle? (B)
86. When purchasing used equipment, you usually “get what you pay for”? True or False. (True)
87. Used equipment can literally cost you an arm or a leg because it may lack customary shields and guards. True or False. (True)
88. A tractor cab helps protect the operator from lightning hazards. True or False. (True)
89. It’s safe to assume that a tractor operator can operate any kind of tractor. True or False. (False)
90. It’s a good idea to re-certify tractor driver’s how often? (Annually)
91. An enclosed cab offers adequate protection for extra riders. True or False. (False)
92. Only children as extra riders are a problem because adults can protect themselves on a tractor. True or False. (False)
93. The following types of farm equipment are unsafe for extra jasmin live riders. (Check all that apply.) A) tractor, B) all-terrain vehicle, C) pick-up truck cab, D) combine. (B; also A and D if they are not equipped with a manufacturer-installed extra seat.)
For more information about these and many other safety topics, contact your county Extension office, or visit the Florida AgSafe Network Web site:
http://www.flagsafe.ufl.edu “Tractor Fundamentals: Best Practices,” North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks. For more information, contact the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety. Web site: < http://www.nagcat.org >.
“Hand Signals for Agriculture,” ASAE Standard S351.
“Operator Controls on Agricultural Equipment,” ASAE Standard S335.4.
“Roll-Over Protective Structures (ROPS) for Wheeled Agricultural Tractors,” ASAE Standard S383.1.
“Symbols for Operator Controls on Agricultural Equipment,” ASAE Standard S304.5.
“Roll-Over Protective Structures (ROPS),” Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA Standard 1928.51
“No Riders” decals may be purchased from the Farm Safety 4 Just Kids organization.
Appendix 1. Comments about the Hazards of Rotating Machine Parts
A 17-year-old was killed when he became entangled in the rotating PTO shaft of a mixer-grinder. This shows the significance of even “slow” rotating parts and the devastating results.
This young man was working side-by-side with a farmer who owned the mixer-grinder. The entire incident took a second or two. The farmer looked away, heard a thud, and when he looked back, the 17-year-old was dead on the ground.
Although the farmer recalled seeing demonstrations where mannequins were entangled and destroyed by unguarded PTO drivelines, he stated he did not realize the seriousness of the cameraboys entanglement hazard when the tractor engine was operating at idle speed only.
The PTO for the tractor in the incident was rated at 540 revolutions per minute (rpm) at 1,900-rpm engine speed. However, even at engine idle speed (about 700 rpm), the PTO shaft turns at approximately 200 rpm or 3.3 revolutions per second. Even at idle speed, an entanglement would occur instantly.
All persons operating or working near PTO-driven machines should recognize the hazard of PTO driveline entanglement and the need for complete driveline shielding systems . People should understand that even when the driveline shielding is complete, safe clearance should be maintained to protect against being caught by undetected sharp edges of damaged shields. People should receive training in machine-specific hazard identification for all machines they are exposed to.