Back to Ba­sics: Trac­tor Op­er­a­tion 101

The Drumheller Mail - - AGSAFE FAMILY -

Trac­tors are essen­tial to farm op­er­a­tions. From field work to feed­ing the live­stock to clean­ing snow, trac­tors are the most used ma­chine on the farm. Fir­ing up the trac­tor is pretty rou­tine on the farm and op­er­a­tion seems pretty straight for­ward. As sim­ple and as com­mon­place as us­ing these ma­chines are, the fact re­mains that the ma­jor­ity of agri­cul­ture ma­chin­ery-re­lated fa­tal­i­ties in­volve trac­tors. Re­minders on ba­sic safety while op­er­at­ing trac­tors can help ev­ery­one stay safe.

Runovers and Rollovers are the top two ways peo­ple are killed on the farm. Un­manned ma­chine runovers ac­count for ap­prox­i­mately half of all runover fa­tal­i­ties. This means that half of all runover deaths hap­pen when no one is even driv­ing the ma­chine! Pas­sen­gers and op­er­a­tors who fall from the ma­chine are also killed in runovers all too fre­quently.

By­standers are also in dan­ger of be­ing runover, un­for­tu­nately, most killed in by­stander runovers are chil­dren un­der the age of nine.

Runovers are easy to pre­vent if ba­sic trac­tor op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures are fol­lowed. Be­fore mount­ing the trac­tor, walk around the ma­chine to check for ob­struc­tions, by­standers and to check the gen­eral con­di­tion of the trac­tor. If any sys­tems are faulty, do not use the trac­tor.

Be­fore start­ing the trac­tor, make sure that all con­trols are in their neu­tral po­si­tions, the park­ing brake is ap­plied and the clutch and PTO are dis­en­gaged. Do not start or op­er­ate any of the con­trols from any­where other than the seat.

Be sure to drive at a speed slow enough to keep con­trol of the trac­tor, es­pe­cially over ex­pected haz­ards like rail­road cross­ings. Do not drive the trac­tor on ground that may col­lapse, like near ditches or em­bank­ments.

When com­ing to a stop, make sure you are parked on even ground, dis­en­gage the PTO (if con­nected), and lower any im­ple­ments that are at­tached. Be sure to place all con­trols in the neu­tral po­si­tion, ap­ply the park­ing brake and turn off the en­gine. Re­move the key. Never dis­mount the trac­tor if it is still mov­ing.

It can­not be stressed enough that trac­tors are not pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles. Ex­cept for those built with in­struc­tional seats, they are built for one per­son. There are far too many sto­ries of ex­tra riders be­ing killed or in­jured. Keep­ing ex­tra riders off the trac­tor is an easy way to pre­vent tragedy.

To sum up, watch for by­standers (keep kids in su­per­vised, safe play ar­eas), do not try to start the trac­tor from any­where but the op­er­a­tor’s seat, drive cau­tiously and never, ever al­low ex­tra riders.

Con­sider host­ing a tool­box talk on this task on your farm. Visit agsafe­ty­week.ca and check out the re­sources in­clud­ing tool­box talks on top­ics like ba­sic trac­tor op­er­a­tion, re­mov­ing du­als safely, op­er­at­ing por­ta­ble augers and more. About Cana­dian Agri­cul­tural Safety Week:

Cana­dian Agri­cul­tural Safety Week (CASW) is a pub­lic aware­ness cam­paign fo­cus­ing on the im­por­tance of farm safety. CASW takes place ev­ery year dur­ing the third week of March. In 2017, CASW takes place March 12 to 18. CASW 2017 is pre­sented by Farm Credit Canada. For more in­for­ma­tion visit agsafe­ty­week.ca.

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