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Think Tractor Safety
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Think Tractor Safety by FARSHA
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Tractor on Road
Think Tractor Safety
Agriculture is a dangerous business. It is consistently found to be one of the most hazardous workplaces in BC. In 2014, the Okanagan Region was the site of three serious tractor incidents. Incidents like these cause fatalities and serious injuries within all age groups including the children of farmers. Young inexperienced workers as well as those with vast amounts of experience are among the victims. One of the highest risk categories are experienced farmers 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 an important topic to be covered in your safety program.
Working safely cannot be inherited; it must be taught, learned and practiced. In most cases tractor rollover fatalities or serious injuries 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. These narrower tractors can be less stable and lead to higher risk of rollovers. Leaving the tractor without properly parking and turning off the tractor is another leading cause of tractor injuries such as entanglements or operator run-overs. Some new tractors have a safety feature that will not allow the tractor to run unless the operator is in the seat.
Some important safety points for all tractor operators are:
- Conduct a pre shift inspection
- Use a Roll Over Protective System and seat belt
- Conduct a thorough risk assessment for the tractor, implement and tasks
- Keep loads low when travelling
- Always keep an eye out for pedestrians, do not move tractor without eye to eye contact with pedestrian.
- No extra riders on tractor, bucket, or forks
- Follow recommended hitching procedures and weight 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 public roads
- Ensure loads are properly secured.
- Disengage PTO, turn off tractor and set brake before leaving tractor seat
To ensure due diligence, an employer, manager or supervisor must require operators to be educated and trained in the safe operation of all mobile equipment, including tractors. This training must be documented and ongoing, adequate supervision is required to ensure safe operating standards are constantly adhered to. A practical evaluation of operators displaying competency to a qualified supervisor forms part of this due diligence. Regular safety discussions with operators on tractor related issues and topics are also required. A crew talk at the start of each growing season is a good way to remind operators of their responsibilities.
FARSHA offers a Safe Tractor Operators course and also works with employers and/or supervisors to establish on going evaluation tools to assist in the orientation of new or returning workers. Proper, sufficient, adequate training incorporated with ongoing supervision and an effective pre-shift inspection and maintenance program combine to reduce risks of injury when operating mobile equipment and specifically tractors. Correcting what may seem like a small action or repair item can help prevent an incident from becoming very serious. Make FARSHA’s Tractor Safety Training Program part of your farm’s safety program. For assistance to initiate or improve your safe tractor operations or other worker safety concerns, compliance issues or needs please contact your regional FARSHA safety consultant.
In the Okanagan contact: Carol Reid at 250-215-5293, firstname.lastname@example.org or the FARSHA office toll free 1-877-533-1789 for a consultant in your area.