All too often there are stories shared by farmers or family members about near misses, close calls, minor injuries or a story about a situation that could have ended worse. Stories like these are shared the world over. 

Many who have lived these experiences have counted themselves lucky, grateful and watched over. What normally happens after these moments, is that attitudes change to a humbler state where their mortality is heightened, and safety moves into a higher priority...for a while. However, as time goes forward and there are no near misses there is a tendency to forget the lessons learned from the previous often dangerous experience. 

It is easy to understand that farming and ranching still remains one of the most dangerous industries in the United States with a fatality rate of 21 out every 100,000 farmer/rancher dying according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, tens of thousands are hurt in accidents each year, most of these being tractor or other machinery related. 

Small farms can run the risk of feeling that they are too small for anyone to care about what they do and how they do it. However, that is not true. Small farms/ranches are mostly viewed as the heart and soul of America and always portrayed as the place where values and hard work matter the most. Please keep it that way! Show that hard work and safe workplace can make the difference in passing the farm on to the next generation or losing part of it pay medical bills. No matter what size the farm or ranch, safety is the key to a successful operation and a place for the next generation to keep working.  

The tractor is a key factor in safety

Tractors and other heavy machinery account for many of the deaths and dismemberments on the farm. It doesn’t matter if it is not having a rollover protective structure, fatigue or just being into big of a hurry during harvest. One mistake here and you run the risk of losing everything.

Be sure anyone driving the tractor has had a review of the safety procedures. Remember, the simple safety features on the tractor matter. Yes, even the dirty SMV…please, make sure it can be seen. 

The following are some specific points to consider in a pre-road check:

  • Independent brakes should be locked together. In a sudden or panic stop situation, uneven braking could cause the tractor to veer to one side or the other and lose control of the implement.
  • The tires used on all farm machinery should be kept inflated to the proper pressure. Sudden blowout or flats can create an extremely dangerous situation.
  • By law, all tractors and vehicles of husbandry, must exhibit a slow-moving vehicle sign, positioned at the rear of the vehicle when driven on the road. The sign should be centered and clearly visible.  Signs should be kept clean. The retro-reflective material on the sign is subject to fading. Faded or damaged signs should be replaced.
  • All farm machinery operating on the highway must be equipped with vehicular hazard warning lights, which shall be displayed, whenever; vehicle is operated upon a road.  Every farm tractor or implement shall have at least two white lights at the front and one red light, left of center, at the rear.
  • Safety chains are required on all towed implements, in case the main hitch or pin fails.  All hitch pins require safety pins to prevent unlikely jarring out.
  • All loads should be secured and when necessary tarped or covered properly.
  • Implements such as swathers, bailer, etc. should be put in transport position before they are taken on the road.