Farm Equipment Safety
Arkansas farm owners and agricultural workers use a diverse selection of equipment and tools. Careful operation and following appropriate safety tips during the use of all equipment and tools help to manage risks and minimize the chances of personal injury. Unfortunately, the annual death rate for farm workers involving on-farm accidents is more than 20 per 100,000 workers in the United States. Forty-six percent of all farm fatalities are from the use of farm equipment. Therefore, farm safety is a serious issue in the United States. Consequently, this website is dedicated to provide an idea of the general rules to be followed for safer work on the farm. However, it should be known that details for safe operation vary widely and the equipment manuals should be read and followed appropriately.
- Agricultural Equipment Safety Guidelines
Agriculture uses a diverse array of tools and equipment. As with all tools and equipment careful operation and following appropriate safety tips helps to manage risks and minimize the chances of personal injury. While the details for safe operation vary, there are some general guidelines that have broad application.
- On-Farm Hazards and Accident Prevention
This section explores some on-farm hazards and presents some tips for accident prevention. It also emphasizes the importance of considering safety first. According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), farming is considered one of the most hazardous and dangerous occupations in the US. Farmers are at a relatively high risk of fatal and nonfatal injuries. It is important that farm workers be aware of potential hazards in day-to-day farm operations to reduce the possibility of injury or death. Unfortunately, the number of fatal work injuries by major events in 2015 accounted for 4,824 cases. Transportation incidents, the incident with the most casualties among workers fatal injuries, represented 42.6% of these fatalities. Falls/slips/trips, contact with object and equipment, and violence accounted for 800, 722 and 703 fatal occupational injuries, respectively.
- Tractor Safety
Over the years, tractor design and development have changed dramatically. Many safety measures have been developed and made a part of the basic tractor design. One example of this is the roll-over protective structure (ROPS) designed to protect the operator in case of a tractor rollover accident. The use of seatbelts and tractor cabs with built-in ROPS are other examples of safety designed into the tractor.
Farm tractors provide the primary source of power on many farms. Studies show that the farm tractor is involved in a high proportion of farm fatalities and severe injuries. To avoid them, follow safe management principles and implement a tractor safety program on your farm.
- Safe Use of Tractors in the Woods
Harvesting timber, clearing land and fence rows, and cutting and transporting fire wood are common tasks on farms and rural property. When done by trained loggers or foresters using machines designed for working in the woods, these tasks can be done with minimal risk. But when attempted by untrained or inexperienced farmers or rural property owners using machines designed for farming or property maintenance, the same tasks have an increased risk of a serious injury or fatality.
- Power Take-Off (PTO) Safety
The power-take-off (PTO) allows a farmer to harness the power of the tractor engine to drive a variety of machines. It is just as important today as it was when it was first introduced. However, a healthy respect for the PTO drive line's potential for causing injury and death is needed.
- Large Farm Equipment Safety
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 58,385 adult farm-related job injuries in 2014. In other words, every day about 160 agricultural workers suffers a lost-work-time injury. Moreover, five percent of these injuries result in permanent impairment. Unfortunately, in 2013, the Bureau of Labor reported that 459 farmers and farm operators died from work-related injuries, leading to a fatality rate of 21.7 deaths per 100,000 workers, which is twice the rate for the next highest industry of mining. Injury and death rates in almost every survey published are higher from April to September for agricultural work, when most farm activities occur.
- Trailer Use Safety
As with all equipment careful operation and following appropriate trailer safety tips helps to manage risks and minimize the chances of personal injury. While the types of loads vary, there are some general guidelines that have broad application.
- Attachment Safety
Always refer to the appropriate implement and attachment Operator’s Manual(s) for operating guidelines and safety instructions. Use common sense in the use and application of attachments for the job at hand. Carelessness, impatience and fatigue are your worst enemy around a tractor and its attachments. Be in the habit of walking around, not between, the tractor and implement. If you are tired you are more likely to make shortcuts — and mistakes — so shut it down and rest. These simple precautions may save your life.
- Falls from Tractors and Trailing Equipment
Runovers caused by falls from tractors and trailing equipment are one of the most common forms of unintentional injuries that happen on the farm or ranch. Many of these lead to serious injury and death. Falls from farm machinery are particularly common for the older farmer and children. Falls from machinery can be prevented by adopting these basic practices.
- Safe Use of Harvesting Equipment
Harvesting equipment is a necessity on farms to gather the crops for a bountiful harvest. Harvest time is primary revenue time on many farms and is also one of the peak periods for farm injuries and deaths. Many of these injuries can be prevented through effective farm safety management.
- Skid-Steer Safety
Skid-steers are large equipment that can be used for a variety of farm jobs. They are valuable “workhorses” for many farms. Larger skid-steers are familiar at building sites because of their higher power, while smaller skid-steers with better maneuverability are useful for landscaping and gardening jobs.
Have a Question, Contact Us:
If you have any questions, please email or call:
Dr. Sammy Sadaka, PE
Associate Prof. & Extension
University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
2301 S. University Avenue
Little Rock, AR 72204