The agriculture industry in the United States has once again been named in a top ten list. Unfortunately, this list was naming the most hazardous professions. In fact, the agriculture industry has been in the top ten for over a decade. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (NIOSHA), 416 farmers and farm workers lost their lives while trying to make a living in 2016, and it is estimated that over 100 agriculture workers suffer a lost time accident every day. Tractor overturns were the leading cause of death among these workers, taking 130 lives per year on average. For every death, it is estimated that four other workers will suffer a non-fatal injury due to overturns. Luckily, rollover technology has come a long way and has helped prevent a more serious outcome. In a recent study, operators injured during overturns of tractors without roll bars lost an average of 97.8 days of farm work (more than three months), compared to operators who were protected by roll bars and seatbelts. Workers suffering injuries during overturns of tractors with roll bars had an average of 21.7 days (about three weeks) among operators injured. While overturns are the leading cause of injury and death, it is not the only safety concern relating to the tractor. Entanglement, runovers, collisions all can result in catastrophic injuries. In response to all the accidents, Kubota developed “The Ten Commandments of Tractor Safety”, which is widely accepted as the standard in the tractor industry. Make sure all your employees and family members understand these simple rules when they are around tractors.
Accidents don’t “just happen.” Accidents are caused. Which is why they can be prevented!
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF TRACTOR SAFETY
- Know your tractor, its implements and how they work. Please read and understand the Operator's Manual(s) before operating the equipment. Also, keep your equipment in good condition.
- Use ROPS and seatbelt whenever and wherever applicable. If your tractor has a foldable ROPS, fold it down only when absolutely necessary, and fold it up and lock it again as soon as possible. Do not wear the seatbelt when the ROPS is folded. Most tractor fatalities are caused by overturns.*
- Be familiar with your terrain and work area. Walk the area first to identify any debris or obstacles that could hinder your ability to drive safely. Use special caution on slopes. Slow down for all turns and stay off the highway whenever possible.
- Never start an engine in a closed shed or garage. Exhaust gas contains carbon monoxide, which is colorless, odorless and deadly.
- Always keep your PTO properly shielded. Make it a habit to walk around your tractor and PTO driven implement, never over, never through and never between the tractor and implement, particularly if either is running. The PTO rotates with enough speed and strength to kill you.
- Keep your hitches low and always on the drawbar. Otherwise, your tractor might flip over backwards.
- Never get off a moving tractor or leave it with its engine running. Shut it down before leaving the seat. A runaway tractor can be extremely dangerous.
- Never refuel while the engine is running or hot. Additionally, do not add coolant to the radiator while the engine is hot. Hot coolant can erupt and scald.
- Keep all children away from your tractor and its implements at all times. Children are generally attracted to tractors and the work they do. But a tractor's work is not child's play. Remember, a child's disappointment is fleeting, while your memory of his or her injury or death resulting from riding the tractor with you, or being too close, will last a lifetime.
- Never be in a hurry or take chances. Think safety first, then take your time and do it right.
*Kubota Tractor Corporation strongly recommends the use of ROPS and seatbelts in almost all applications.
“Tractor Safety.” Kubotausa.com, www.kubotausa.com/service-support/safety/tractor-safety.
“Agriculture Safety.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Apr. 2018, www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/aginjury/default.html
“Agriculture Operations: Vehicle Safety.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/agriculturaloperations/vehiclehazards.html.