By Extension

With spring?s arrival, the tractor again becomes king on most farms. Unfortunately, accidents involving this much-used machine account for many serious and often fatal injuries that cause great suffering as well as big losses of time, money and productivity.

Farm families are reminded about the potential safety and health risks involved in tractor operation and what they can do to assure a safer and more successful planting season. These tractor safety reminders will help:

Be personally prepared for a safe day in the field. Choose comfortable, well fitting clothing that provides adequate protection from conditions, you?re likely to encounter. Wear safety shoes. If your tractor lacks a sound resistant cab, wear acoustic ear muffs or ear inserts to protect hearing. Wear a bump cap or hard hat instead of a baseball cap that gives you no protection from the bumps and bruises of farm work. If the work involves dust or chemicals, wear a respirator appropriate for the air hazards involved. Eye and hand protection is imperative when applying anhydrous ammonia.

Review the instruction manuals for all tractors and equipment that will be used in operation.

Train new or young workers and family members and supervise them until you are sure they are competent and safe operators.

If your tractor is not equipped with a ROPS cab or frame, check with your dealer to see if it can be fitted. When driving a ROPS-equipped tractor, always fasten you seat belt.

Equip your tractor with a fire extinguisher and first aid kit.

Stay away from ditches, embankments and holes to avoid upset. Stay off hills and slopes too steep for safe operation.

Do not permit others to ride. Keep children off and away.

Watch where you are going at all times. Look for and avoid obstacles, including overhead power lines. Be certain everyone is out of the way before moving.

Do not overload the tractor. Always engage the clutch smoothly. Hitch heavy loads only to the drawbar. If the drawbar is on a three-point hitch, set it no higher than the fixed drawbar. Raising it to get more traction could result in a backward overturn. Use front weight to balance the tractor.

Keep the PTO shielding in place when operating. Turn off the PTO and engine before unclogging a machine or attending to other operating problems. Getting caught in running machinery is a leading cause of severe farm work injuries, often resulting in amputation, even death.

Set the wheel width as wide as practical for maximum stability. Hold road speed at a controllable rate. When stopped, shift to neutral or park, and set the brakes. Take the key with you.

Refuel with care. Cut the engine. Remove the tank cap slowly. Wipe up spills. No smoking!

When jump starting a tractor, never bypass the starter safety interlock. If you forgot to take the tractor out of gear, it could start and run over you. Start the tractor only when in the seat with the gearshift in neutral and the clutch pedal fully depressed.

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