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Agriculture is a dangerous business; the farm is consistently found to be one of the most hazardous workplaces in B.C. The Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting System (CAIR) fatal agricultural injury data for 19 calendar years from 1990 to 2008 found machine run overs and rollovers are the leading cause of fatalities on farms in Canada.
These fatal injuries occur within all age groups including the children of farmers, young inexperienced workers, experienced workers and those over the age of 60.
Understanding the risks associated with mobile equipment on farms, particularly tractors, demands that the safe use and operation of tractors is covered in your health and safety program.
“Safety is common sense” is often heard by FARSHA consultants during discussions on B.C. farms, but working safely is not inherited. It must be learned and practiced. In many cases tractor rollover fatalities would have been prevented if the operator had a Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS) and was wearing a seat belt. New orchard plantings often allow for ROPS on tractors.
Vineyard rows are getting narrower and the tractors used in these rows are narrower than in years past. Narrower tractors can be less stable and a greater risk for rollovers.
Leaving the tractor without properly parking and turning off the tractor leads to injuries from entanglements or operator run overs. Fortunately some new tractors have a safety feature that will not allow the tractor to run unless the operator is in the seat.
Due diligence is a buzz phrase often mentioned when discussing worker safety, but needs to be clearly understood. Due diligence is defined as “taking all reasonable care to protect the well-being of workers.”
The employer must be able to prove that all precautions, reasonable under the circumstances, were taken to protect the health and safety of workers. For tractor safety, due diligence includes education on tractor safety as well as training on the use of the available equipment. That also includes safe work procedures or guidelines specific to the equipment and various sites on your farm.
A practical evaluation by operators displaying competency to a qualified supervisor forms part of this diligence. It is also important to have ongoing monitoring of an operator’s practices and abilities and to follow up with supervision that ensures procedures are followed. Regular safety discussions with operators on tractor safety topics are also required. These actions must be documented to form part of a defined effort for due diligence. ■
FARSHA’s tractor course includes instruction on such things as the centre of gravity and centrifugal force. Students learn an incident does not just have a single cause, but often 25 or more contribute to a fatal outcome.
To initiate or improve safe tractor operations or other safety concerns please contact Carol Reid, Regional Safety Consultant at 250-765-7025, email@example.com, or the FARSHA office toll free at 1-877-533-1789.
TRACTOR SAFETY TIPS
- Conduct a pre-shift inspection Use a Roll Over Protective System and seat belt
- Conduct a thorough risk assessment for the tractor, implement and task
- Keep loads low when travelling
- Always keep an eye out for pedestrians; do not move a tractor without eye to eye contact with a pedestrian
- No extra riders on tractor, bucket, or forks Follow recommended hitching procedures and limits
- Turn on level ground whenever possible Stay away from soft shoulders
- Ensure brakes are in good condition and properly locked for high speeds
- Use a Slow Moving Vehicle sign for roads Ensure loads are properly secured.
- Disengage PTO, turn off tractor and set brake before leaving tractor seat