Tractor Safety

This text is not intended as a definitive guide but as a collection of tips from various sources, all of them are intended to improve your safety while using a tractor which can be a very dangerous machine. The tips are not listed in any order of importance.

At the end of the day use your own common sense when operating a tractor or for that matter any machinery, there is no point in blaming someone else when your lying in hospital or much worse on your death bed. Be accountable for your own safety and of those around you.


Ensure that the you are both physically and mentally fit to operate the tractor. Many things can affect your ability including. Fatigue, stress, medication, alcohol and drugs.
Always travel with any attachment as low to the ground as the conditions allow, thus lowering your centre of gravity.
Descend slopes with caution. engage low gear, allowing the engine compression to slow the vehicle.
Do not park and leave a tractor on a steep slope, park brakes can and do release.
Do not use any other towing point except the draw bar of the tractor. This should be mounted below the rear axle. A high mounted tow point (even the axle it's self) can tip the tractor over backwards..
Drive smoothly and do not make any sudden stops when working with a raised front mounted loader or fork lift etc.
If at all possible always reverse out of a bogged situation. If not it is preferable to use another vehicle to pull the bogged tractor out.
Observe for any embankments, depressions and sink holes etc. Crumbling or slippery banks and the like have caused many tractor roll overs.
Slow down before turning or applying the brakes.
When it is necessary to work on silage stacks or any mound of material, observe and keep track of the edges, do not drive too close.
When operating on sloped ground, turn slowly up hill and very carefully (less than walking pace). If the tractor becomes unstable do not proceed with the turn.
When navigation across a slope adjust the wheels of the tractor to their widest setting to improve the stability of the vehicle.
Take regular rest breaks, tiredness is often the root cause of many tractor accidents.
14 Use any fitted seat belt, they should be provided.
15 Keep all children and pets away from the tractor and make sure any one else in the vicinity is aware of your limited visibility and all of the associated risks.
16 Never start your tractor unless you are seated in the driving position, many people have been killed by a tractor inadvertently started in gear rolling over them.
17 Wear appropriate safety clothing and footwear when operating the tractor.
18 Ensure that the tractor is fitted with a ROPS (Roll Over Protection Structure) failure to have one fitted is dangerous and in many countries considered illegal.
19 Wear hearing protection.
20 Do not carry passengers tractors are not designed for it.

There ar so many things to think about when operating a tractor, every operator has had a scare while on his machine and we can all tell tales of people that have been killed or serious injured while operating one.

After the initial familiarisation stage of operating any machinery, the worst thing in my experience is just over familiarisation. You have been operating the machine for so long you think you can relax and predict it's behavior. that's when they bite, i've got a few scars myself as reminders of that.

The importance of a ROPS cannot be over emphasised in some places tractors from the early 70's and before do not legally require on, but that won't prevent it from rolling on top of you in an accident. Tractors are inherently unstable.

For a far more detailed discussion of tractor safety University of Florida




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