Tips to Avoid Tractor Safety Hazards
Tractor Safety Checklist
Whether you are learning to drive a tractor for the first time or simply need a refresher, safe operation is critical to prevent serious injury. These are the best practices you should follow to avoid common tractor safety hazards.
Preparation and Maintenance
Before getting on your tractor, thoroughly study the operator’s manual. Understand how it works and familiarize yourself with the existing safety mechanisms. Keep your tractor in good condition by following recommended maintenance. Avoid using your tractor when it needs repair.
Make sure guards and shields are in good condition before operating your tractor. Replace loose, cracked, broken or missing shields and guards before driving the tractor. It’s especially important to check the master power take-off (PTO) shield, which has the estimated strength of 500 individuals.
Check the fluid levels and make sure brakes are correctly adjusted. Otherwise, you may find yourself unable to stop the tractor when you critically need to do so.
Inflate tires to the recommended pressure as indicated in the operating manual and reinflate as needed. Replace tires that are punctured, cracked or damaged.
Make sure all the tractor’s lights are working correctly, including brake lights, flashers and headlights. You are required to have one red taillight that is visible from at least 500 feet at all times as well as two forward-facing headlights. If you take your tractor on the open road, you must also have working flashers: either white or amber at the front of the vehicle and either red or amber at the rear.
When you need to refuel your tractor, wait until the engine is cool. Never add fuel while the engine is running and do not add water to the radiator of a hot tractor. This could result in a serious burn injury.
Wear the right clothes when driving your tractor. Avoid dangling or loose garments that could get caught in the vehicle’s mechanisms. Wear safety goggles, work gloves and heavy shoes or boots with a non-skid sole.
When it’s time to start the engine, do so in open air. Do not start your tractor in an enclosed place like a shed or barn; this could result in carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you’re traveling a fair distance, secure safety equipment to your tractor so you’ll be prepared in an emergency. A basic kit should include a small tool kit, first aid kit, flares and a fire extinguisher.
Choose a tractor that is outfitted with a rollover protection system (ROPS). According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), ROPS must be included in all tractors made after 1975. This structure usually consists of two or four posts integrated with the cab or tractor frame.
When you drive this type of vehicle, always wear your seatbelt. Do not ride with passengers unless your tractor has an extra seat with its own safety belt.
Most modern tractors have a mechanism that prevents the operator from starting the tractor from the ground, then jumping on when it’s running. This practice can lead to dangerous rollover accidents. Always sit in your seat securely before starting the engine. If your tractor is not outfitted with this type of safety switch, you can purchase an aftermarket version.
When you stop your tractor, make sure the brakes are set securely. Ideally, choose a model with a park lock function.
Modern tractors are also designed with safety decals. Clean these areas with soap and water so the information is clearly visible. Damaged or missing signs should be replaced with new legible versions.
Drive at a safe speed, especially on unfamiliar terrain and on rocky, muddy or slick surfaces. Avoid areas with uneven surfaces, bumps and potholes. Steer around protruding roots, stumps and debris. Slow down when you approach turns and slopes. Do not drive your tractor on the highway.
Never leave your tractor with its engine running or jump off the vehicle while it is in motion. A runaway tractor is a serious safety hazard.
Bypass starting is a dangerous practice that involves bypassing safety switches by touching a screwdriver to the motor terminals to start the engine. If this occurs when the tractor is running, you could be pulled down by the drive wheel and run over by the vehicle.
Hitching and Hauling
When pulling cargo, use only the hitch points specified in your tractor’s operating manual. Keep hitches low on the drawbar to keep your tractor from overturning, a major contributor to operator injury and fatality.
When considering tractor safety, think of your vehicle as a tool and not a toy. It should be used only to complete the work at hand and not as general transportation. Children can be seriously injured or killed and should never operate, play with or ride on a tractor even with adult supervision.
Clarion Safety Systems can promote safe operation of your tractor with our high-quality signs and decals. Contact us today to learn more about our products or design your own tractor safety decal with our easy-to-use online product customizers.