Farm Machinery and Equipment
Operating a Tractor
Tractors are the main cause of accidental deaths on farms. Over the years, many farmers,
farm workers and others living on or visiting farms, have been killed or seriously injured
falling from moving tractors, being run over by tractors, or being crushed when a tractor
rolls sideways or backwards.
Spot the hazard
Regularly check for hazards relating to tractors, attached implements and field
conditions. Hazard areas could include mechanical parts, operator training, other people,
work procedures, unsafe jacking, climatic conditions, chemicals used, uneven terrain, and
any other potential causes of an injury or a hazardous incident. Keep a record to ensure
identified hazards are assessed and controlled.
Assess the risk
Once a potential hazard has been identified, assess the likelihood of an injury or
hazardous incident occurring. For example, risk to children playing near a tractor will
vary, depending on what the tractor operator is doing, how close they are to the tractor
and whether the operator knows they are there. Consider ways of minimizing risk.
Make the changes
· Read and follow safety procedures in the manufacturer's manual.
· Ensure an approved cab or rollover protective structure (ROPS) is fitted.
· Fit and use a seatbelt on tractors with ROPS.
· If there is a risk from falling objects, fit a fall-on protective structure (FOPS).
· To reduce risk of back strain, fit a seat with side restraints and a backrest.
· Wear hearing protection, and remember, not all tractor cabs are sound proof.
· Keep children away from tractors and machinery.
· Remove starter keys when tractors are not in use.
· Have an up-to-date maintenance schedule.
· Follow safe maintenance and jacking procedures. (See Tractor Maintenance.)
· Ensure the operator is properly trained for each type of tractor work.
· Always mount and dismount on a tractor's left side - to avoid controls.
· Adjust the seat so all controls are safely and comfortably reached.
• Keep all guards in place, including the power take-off (PTO).
• Operate the self-starter from the operator position only.
• Never carry passengers.
When operating a tractor
• Drive at speeds slow enough to retain control over unexpected events.
• Reduce speed before turning or applying brakes.
• Watch out for ditches, logs, rocks, depressions and embankments.
• On steep slopes, without a trailed implement, reverse up for greater safety.
• Engage the clutch gently at all times, especially when going uphill or towing.
• Use as wide a wheel track as possible on hillsides and sloping ground.
• Descend slopes cautiously in low gear, using the motor as a brake.
• Never mount or dismount from a moving tractor.
• Ensure the park brake is on and operating effectively before dismounting.
• Take short breaks regularly when working long hours.
When towing implements
• Fit attachments according to the manufacturer's instructions.
• Always attach implements to the draw bar or the mounting points provided by the
• Never alter, modify or raise the height of the draw bar unless provided for by the
• Regularly check safety pins on towed lift-wing implements, to ensure they are not
• Ensure all guards on towed implements are in place before operating.
• Never hitch above the centerline of the rear axle, around the axle housing or to the
top link pin.
• Never adjust or work on implements while they are in motion.
• Never attach implements unless the PTO shaft is guarded.
• When parking, always lower the three-point linkage and towed implement.
To avoid strain injury
• Adjust the tractor seat for back support and comfort.
• When buying a tractor, ensure seating is safe and comfortable.
• Check seat height, seat depth, backrest height and angle, fore and aft movement,
seat tilt, firm padding, partial pivoting (if you have to spend long periods looking
behind you), and vibration-absorbing suspension.
• Dismount every hour or so, and spend 5 or 10 minutes doing something active.
• Plan for your next tractor to include suitably low steps, handgrips, adequate
doorway and cab space, and a safe mounting platform.
• Dismount by climbing down - not jumping down - and use each provided foot and
Blocks and chocks
• Ensure wooden blocks for jacking are of hardwood, e.g. jarrah or karri, with a
surface area that will support the tractor's weight on soft soils.
• Chock all wheels that will remain on the ground, using big wooden chocks at the
front and rear of each wheel. Don't use rocks; they're too unstable.
• Chock all wheels on articulated vehicles to stop them twisting sideways during
• Before jacking, apply brakes, place in gear - or automatic park - and switch
• Stay clear of the tractor while operating the jack.
When removing wheels
• Loosen wheel nuts before the wheel is off the ground, to avoid any movement that
could dislodge the tractor.
• Before removing a tractor tire from a rim, release all water and air pressure.
• To avoid serious injuries, it is recommended that work performed on split rims be
done by the professional. Therefore, farm workers should not work on split rims.
• Never jack more than one wheel off the ground at a time in the field.
• If both rear wheels have to be removed, work on a flat, level concrete floor, in the
• When removing rear wheels, ensure the front wheels are immobilized by fixing
wedges between axle and body.
Using Grain Harvesting Equipment Safely
Combine Operator Safety
Good safety habits are vital for anyone who operates a combine, corn picker or other
grain-harvesting machine. Failure to observe safety practices can be fatal!
However, constant alertness is also necessary to prevent machinery accidents--accidents
that often happen in spite of machinery that is designed for safety.
Machinery operators are not in top physical or emotional condition when they are tired,
ill, worried, angry, or have their minds on something else. Accidents are most likely to
happen under these conditions.
The combine operator is responsible not only for his safety but also for the safety of
others who may be working on or just be near the machine. The operator must be aware
of hazards and remain alert to situations that are potentially dangerous. This includes preoperational
checks, starting, transporting, towing, operating, field repair and maintenance
and stopping the combine.
KEY POINTS AND SUPPORTING INFORMATION
1. Hand Signals. A set of hand signals has been endorsed by several safety
institutions. Since spoken instructions are very difficult to hear over the sounds of
a combine, knowledge of hand signals can be extremely helpful to the operator
when maneuvering a combine, especially in tight places.
2. Safety Before Starting.
a. Before attempting to operate a combine, study the operator's manual. It
has information on general safety rules, plus specific safety
recommendations for the particular machine. The more you know about
the combine, the better prepared you will be to safely operator it.
b. The exhaust fumes from a gasoline or diesel engine are very poisonous. If
the combine is run inside a building, be sure to open the doors to provide
c. Always clean the combine before starting. Trash around the exhaust
system can cause fires. Oil, grease or mud on ladders or the platform can
cause serious falls. If the combine is equipped with a cab, clean the glass
to provide maximum visibility.
d. Check the tire pressure each day. Under-inflation can cause buckling of
the sidewall, which can cause dangerous tire failure. Over-inflated tire
have a great deal of "bounce" and cause upsets more readily that tires with
e. Check the brakes once a week. With hydraulic brakes, make sure that the
master cylinder is full of fluid and that no air is present in the lines. Adjust
the pedal free travel, if necessary, so that the brakes are engaged with the
pedals an equal distance from the floor of the platform. Check the
operator's manual for specific instructions.
f. Check the threshing cylinder-rocking bar to see it is clear of the cylinder.
g. Make sure that all shields and covers are in place and fastened securely.
h. Remove or stow all service equipment.
i. Always use the handrails and ladders provided on the combine for safe
mounting and dismounting.
j. Be sure that all PTO covers, safety stands and shields are on the machine
before taking it to the field.
3. Starting the Combine.
a. Before mounting the combine, make sure that everyone is clear of the
machine. Do not allow anyone to ride with you, unless combine is
equipped with a passenger seat.
b. Before starting the combine:
§• Disengage header drive.
§• Disengage separator drive
§• Place gearshift in neutral
§• Depress clutch pedal
c. Be careful when using diesel starting fluid. It is extremely flammable.
d. If it is necessary to use jumper cables to start the combine, be careful to
avoid sparks around the battery. Hydrogen gas escaping from the battery
can explode. Follow the operator's manual instructions for using jumper
4. Transporting the Combine.
a. Always keep your mind on the dangers of driving the combine on public
roads. Beside maintaining control of the machine, you must watch for
obstacles on the road, pedestrians and traffic.
b. High speed is the leading cause of accidents. Never drive faster that the
road conditions allow for safe operation. Anticipate dangers and slow
down to avoid accidents.
c. Make sure you are familiar with local traffic laws. Check the safety
flashers and small moving vehicle (SMV) emblems to be sure they are
clean and visible.
d. Always lock the brake pedals together. If the combine is not equipped
with locking mechanism, be sure to depress both pedals at the same time
evenly. Applying only one brake, or applying one harder than the other
can cause the combine to swerve and perhaps tip over.
e. Be careful when applying brakes when a header is attached to the
combine. The added weight up front can cause the combine to tip forward
if the brakes are applied abruptly. Always drive slow enough to allow
controlled application of brakes at all times.
f. Always check headlights and safety flashers to make sure they are
properly adjusted and in working order.
g. Put the unloading auger in the transport position. Be certain it is not
blocking a safety flasher or SMV emblem.
h. On self-propelled combines, never use the header safety support when
transporting the machine. Raise the header enough for safe ground
clearance, but not high enough to reduce visibility.
i. On pull-type combines, always use header support when transporting.
Towing at transport speeds can be hazardous because of side forces on the
tractor when stopping too quickly. Side forces from slowing a combine too
quickly may cause a tractor to skid, especially on loose gravel. Slowing
down while turning can cause jack-knifing. Slow down before the corner
so the towed combine doesn't get out of control.
j. Watch for low power or telephone lines, bridges, buildings and any other
obstacles, to make sure you can pass under them safely. Always keep as
far to the right of the roadway as possible. Keep a careful watch to see that
you have safe clearance on both sides.
k. Always sit down when traveling at high speeds or going over rough terrain.
l. Be careful when making turns. Make sure that the rear of the combine will
clear obstacles when it swings around. Avoid sharp turns. Turning too
sharply at high speed can cause the machine to turn over.
m. Because the wheels for steering are in the back, self-propelled machines
often fishtail when turned too quickly at transport speeds. Steering to the
right will whip the rear to the left, and vice versa. Steering suddenly to the
right when meeting oncoming traffic causes the back of the combine to
swing out into the path of on coming traffic.
n. Slowing or braking too rapidly could cause loss of some steering control
(weight on rear wheels). This is most noticeable when driving with a corn
head or some other heavy header raised high. In this case, most of the
weight will be on the drive wheels. Install rear wheel weights. Keep
header as low as possible. Use the variable speed drive or engine throttle
to slow the machine. Reduce speed before you need to apply brakes and
always lock brake pedals together.
o. Never depress the clutch pedal or take the combine out of gear to coast
down hill. When the combine is moving it is impossible to shift the
transmission back in gear. Always maintain complete control of the
combine. The same applies to tractors that are towing pull-type combines.
5. Towing the combine.
a. If the combine must be transported over long distances, it is safer to haul it
on a large truck or a special low trailer.
b. Never tow the combine at speeds higher than 20 mph.
c. Always keep the transmission in neutral or in the "tow" position, if the
combine is so equipped.
d. Never tow a combine equipped with hydrostatic drive. Towing can cause
damage to the drive unit. Instead, haul the combine.
6. Operating the combine.
a. Never operate the combine if you are ill or sleepy. Operating safety
depends on alert, efficient handling of the combine.
b. Wear safety glasses at all times.
c. Wear clothing that fits snugly to avoid catching clothing in moving parts.
d. Never let anyone ride on the combine unless it is equipped with a
passenger seat. A rider's clothing may become entangled in moving parts,
or he may be thrown off the machine.
e. Before starting to harvest a field, check it carefully for ditches, fences or
other obstacles. Be aware of weather conditions, which present safety
f. Be especially careful when operating on hillsides. Avoid sharp turns that
could tip the combine over. Beware of ditches or obstacles--they are
doubly dangerous on slopes.
g. If grain tank extensions are used, remember that the added weight may
make the combine top heavy and more subject to upsets.
h. Never travel over 10 mph (16 km/h) with a full grain tank. The added
weight makes the combine more difficult to maneuver and easier to upset.
i. Always sit down when traveling over rough terrain. A sharp jolt can throw
you from the platform or away from he controls.
j. Hillside combines are equipped with automatic or manual leveling
devices. Hydraulic cylinders act to level these combines on steep slopes.
These machines are equipped with a warning signal that indicates when
the leveling system has reached its limit. Be especially careful after the
k. When using the steering brakes, always turn the steering wheel before
applying the steering brakes. Failure to do so can cause the combine to
swerve and turn dangerously.
7.Field repair and maintenance safety.
a. Always keep the machine clean. Field trash around the exhaust system can
cause fires. Mud, grease or oil on the operator's platform or ladders can
b. Before lubricating or adjusting the combine, disengage all drives and stop
the engine. Never leave the operator's platform with the engine running.
c. Make sure that the header drive and separator drive are disengaged before
attempting to clean the combine. Never try to unclog the machine with a
stick or pole with the machine is running. The stalk rolls on a corn head
can pull a 12 foot (3.6 cm) stick through in one second--shorter sticks or
stalks even faster--before you can let go.
d.On a pull-type combines, always disengage the PTO and turn off the
tractor before attempting to unclog, adjust or lubricate the machine.
e.Always stop the machine before opening the inspection doors.
f. Keep all shields in place. After working on the combine, make sure the
shields are fastened securely.
7. Watch for other people when raising, lowering, or indexing the plow.
8. Never permit anyone to ride on the plow, and allow only the driver on the
tractor. Do not permit children to play on or near the plow either when
parked or in operation.
9. Lower the parking stand and securely pin it in place before detaching
integral or semi-integral plows from the tractor.
C. Disk Tillers or Oneways
1. Keep SMV emblem clean and prominently displayed. Do the same with
reflectors and warning lights as required by state and local regulations.
2. Never allow anyone but the operator to ride on the tractor.
3. Never ride or permit others to ride on the tiller.
4. Lower the tiller to the ground when not in use.
5. Secure the machine in the raised position by installing safety locks or
hold-up pins when servicing or cleaning it.
6. Disk blades are extremely sharp; be very careful when working or making
adjustments in the disk area.
7. Never walk close beside the rear wheel when the tiller is in operation. A
sudden imbalance of forces could cause this wheel suddenly to jump to the left.
8. Never grease, oil, or adjust the tiller while it is in operation.
9. Escaping hydraulic oil under pressure can cause serious personal injury
and infection. Therefore, be sure all connections are tight and that oil lines
are undamaged. Always relieve hydraulic pressure in lines before
disconnecting hoses. See a doctor immediately if escaping hydraulic oil
has penetrated the skin.
D. Chisel Plow
1. Reduce speed when transporting chisel plows over rough or uneven terrain.
2. Use lock-up straps or transport locks when transporting a chisel plow.
3. Be sure wings are locked in the folded position before traveling.
4. Use proper lights, reflectors, and a clean SMV emblem when transporting
equipment on road or highway.
5. The transport width of most folding-section plows exceeds maximum
width of normal vehicles. Therefore, use extreme caution when meeting
other traffic, to avoid collisions and the possibility of transport wheels
dropping into holes, drains, or ditches along the road edge.
6. Allow only the operator to ride on the tractor.
7. Never allow passengers to ride on the chisel plow.
8. Never allow anyone to stand or work near the chisel plow when it is in
operation, particularly when raising or lowering outriggers.
9. Do not permit children to play on or near the chisel plow during operation
10. Provide adequate tractor front-end ballast for stability in transport and
operation, especially with integral models.
11. Be particularly careful of escaping hydraulic fluid, which can penetrate the
skin and cause serious infection or reaction if not given immediate
12. Do not unhitch from the tractor or store a chisel plow when outriggers are
in the raised position.
13. Make sure raised outriggers will safely pass under power and telephone
E.Disk Harrows and Offset Disks
1. Always lock safety lock during transport, if the disk is to be left raised for
an extended period, or while working on the machine.
2. Never depend on tractor hydraulic pressure to carry harrow weight in
transport--use safety lock, and relieve pressure in cylinders.
3. Lower integral harrows to ground each time tractor engine is shut off, and
any time harrow is being serviced or repaired. If it must be raised for
repairs, securely block the frame to prevent accidental lowering.
4. Always use lights, reflectors, and SMV emblem when transporting, day or night.
5. Lock the tractor drawbar in fixed position when transporting wheeled disks.
6. Never transport a disk harrow on its own wheels at more than normal
tractor speed, and considerably less than that on rough or uneven ground.
7. Never clean, adjust, or lubricate the harrow while it is in motion.
8. Wear protective gloves when working with or near disk blades.
9. Hydraulic fluid escaping under pressure can penetrate the skin and cause
serious infection or reactions. Never use hands to locate the source of a
small leak which may be nearly invisible. Obtain immediate medical
attention if injured by escaping hydraulic fluid.
10. Park or block the harrow so it cannot roll when unhitched.
11. Make sure wings are securely locked in transport position before moving
12. Large disk harrows exceed normal vehicle width, so be particularly careful
to avoid collisions when meeting other vehicles on the road. Avoid
dropping wheels of tractor or harrow into holes, drains, or ditches along
13. Provide adequate tractor ballast for front-end stability and to prevent
14. Never allow anyone to ride on tractor drawbar or harrow in operation or
15. Never allow anyone but the operator to ride on the tractor.
16. Lower the machine or install safety lock when storing a disk harrow.
17. Never permit children to play on or near a disk harrow while it is in
operation, transport, or storage.
18. Stand clear of harrow wings during folding or unfolding.
19. Remove spring-loaded scrapers in proper order to avoid personal injury.
Use care in relieving any spring under tension or compression.
20. Do not make sharp turns with blades down.
F. Field Cultivators
1. Never exceed recommended transport speed for the cultivator used. If
speed is not stated, do not exceed maximum tractor speed.
2. Reduce speed for turning and travel over rough or uneven ground.
3. Use transport locks and relieve pressure in cylinders when transporting
field cultivators. Do not depend on hydraulic pressure to carry the weight.
Always lock wings in transport position and relieve pressure in cylinders.
4. Never walk or work under wings when they are in the folded position.
5. Follow state and local regulations regarding lights, reflectors, SMV
emblem, and maximum width when transporting on roads or highways.
6. Transport width of most field cultivators exceeds normal vehicle width.
Therefore, use extreme caution when meeting other vehicles and avoid the
possibility of dropping tractor or- implement wheels into holes, drains, or
ditches along the road edge.
7. Never permit anyone to ride on the tractor drawbar or cultivator in
transport or operation, or to stand near the machine while it is operating-particularly
when raising or lowering wings.
1. Provide sufficient front-end weight for safe, stable operation and transport.
2. Use widest practical wheel tread to improve tractor stability, especially
when working on steep slopes.
3. Reduce implement to narrowest possible width for transport on roads or highways.
4. Lock wings or folded sections securely in place before transporting equipment.
5. Use lights, reflectors, and SMV emblem as required by law when transporting equipment--day or night.
6. Schedule moves for least hazardous periods; avoid transporting equipment
on busy roads, during peak traffic periods, or after dark.
7. Never transport wheeled harrows, harrow carts, or field conditioners at
more than tractor transport speeds; transport considerably slower on rough
or uneven terrain.
8. Never make sharp turns at high speeds.
9. Never allow anyone to ride on the tractor but the operator.
10. Never allow anyone to ride on the tractor drawbar or implement in
operation or transport.
11. Always stop implement and tractor engine to adjust, repair, or lubricate.
12. Lower implements to the ground before stopping tractor engine, before
servicing or repairing equipment, or at any time the machines are left
13. Never make extremely short turns with drag-type eveners which could
foul tractor tires.
14. Never park implements where they could be hidden by tall or growing
crops, grass, or weeds.
15. Keep PTO shaft properly shielded. Never get off tractor without
disengaging PTO and stopping engine.
1. Always use reflectors, lights, and SMV emblem as required when
transporting equipment--day or night.
2. Provide adequate front-end weight for tractor stability in operation and
transport of integral harrows. Use maximum allowable front ballast if
operating integral harrows in lower gears.
3. Never exceed normal tractor speed when transporting drawn roller
harrows, and drive considerably slower than that on rough or uneven
4. Do not transport roller packers over hard-surfaced roads--use carriers.
5. Never permit anyone but the driver to ride on the tractor.
6. Never permit anyone to ride on the tractor drawbar or implement during
operation or transport.
7. Install transport lock pin before storing, transporting, or parking drawn
implement; do not depend on hydraulic pressure to support the weight.
Lower machines to the ground whenever the tractor engine is shut off.
8. Pin tractor drawbar in center before transporting.
9. Never lubricate, adjust, or repair the implement while it is in motion or the
tractor engine is running.
10. Always raise spring teeth before lowering roller harrow to the ground for
parking or storage.
11. Park or block the implement to prevent rolling when it is disconnected
from the tractor.
12. Never try to lift or support the roller harrow on the spring teeth for service
1. Use the SMV emblem, lights, and reflectors as required by law for
transporting equipment on roads or highways.
2. Install the transport safety lock and relieve hydraulic pressure in the
cylinders when transporting.
3. Be certain wings are securely locked in the folded position before transporting.
4. Limit transport speed as recommended--15 miles an hour (24 Km/h) for
some machines, even less on rough or uneven terrain.
5. Never ride or allow others to ride on the machine during operation or
transport. Allow only the driver on the tractor.
6. Do not unhitch from the tractor or store the machine with wings in the
folded transport position.
7. Sweeps are sharp--watch out for them when wings are folded for transport
or when servicing, adjusting, or repairing the plow. Always position
wrenches to pull away from sharp edges or corners.
8. Never stand with feet under blades while making adjustments or during
maintenance. Be extremely careful while working within the implement
9. Do not stand or walk on the plow frame, or under wings when they are
folded for transport.
• Be on the lookout for potential hazards when riding. Rocks, bumps, irrigation
pipes and wildlife all have the potential to cause an accident, and should be
approached with caution.
• Take extra care when operating a bike on unfamiliar or rough terrain.
• Where possible, use familiar farm tracks.
• Be particularly careful when turning, approaching a rise or navigating an obstacle.
If you are not sure of your ability to clear an obstacle, find another route or go
back. Paved surfaces and public roads
• Don't drive ATVs on paved or bitumen surfaces. They are not intended for use on
smooth surfaces and could be difficult to control.
• Never ride ATVs on public roads. It may be difficult to avoid a collision if other
vehicles are on the road.
Passengers and children
• Passengers and ATVs don't mix. ATVs are designed to be controlled by the
shifting of weight around the vehicle. A passenger limits the driver's ability to do
• Never allow children to operate an ATV without training and appropriate
• Children do not always have the weight, limb size, skill and judgement to control
an ATV safely.
Stunts and speeding
• Never attempt jumps, wheelies or other stunts on an ATV.
• Ride at an appropriate speed for the terrain, your experience and the visibility
Drugs, alcohol and fatigue
• Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs.
They may affect your balance, vision, judgment and concentration.
• Fatigue can also limit your ability to control an ATV safely. Operating an ATV is
more physically demanding than driving a car. If you are traveling long distances,
take frequent rest breaks.
• Ensure you are dressed comfortably and appropriately - uncomfortable clothing
can make you tire more easily.
Dangers of Agricultural Machinery
Farm machinery uses power to do work. This creates many possible hazards for both operators and bystanders. Even though manufacturers take many steps to make machinery safe, all hazards cannot be removed. Minor and serious injuries can occur when workers are not paying close attention, taking shortcuts, ignoring warnings or failing to follow safety rules. The wide variety of warning, caution and instructional decals placed on machinery are there for your safety.
There are many different types of farm machinery, but they all have similar characteristics and hazards. Not all these hazards can be completely shielded, so farmers must use caution when operating them.
Shear points exist when the edges of two objects move toward or next to each other
closely enough to cut relatively soft material.
Cutting points happen when a single object moves forcefully or rapidly enough to cut.
They can be found on many types of crop cutting equipment, such as forage harvester
heads and sickle bars, and grain augers.
Shear and cutting points are hazards because of their cutting force. They often move so
rapidly that they may not be visible, so it is easy to forget that they are there.
Pinch points exist when two objects move together, with at least one of them moving in a
circle. They are common in power transmission devices, such as belt and chain drives,
feed rolls and gear drives.
Fingers, hands and feet can be caught directly in pinch points or they may be drawn into
the pinch points by loose clothing that becomes entangled. Contact may be made by
brushing against unshielded parts or by falling against them.
Shields cover most of these areas to prevent accidents, but on e caught, these machines
move too fast for someone caught to get out of a pinch point.
Be aware of these hazards and wear clothing that cannot be caught. Never reach over or
work near rotating parts.
Turn off machinery to work on it and replace any missing shields.