Spring farm work means that tractors are on public roads as well as farm fields. Farm tractors are the primary source of work-related injuries on farms. Nationally, nearly one-third of all farm work fatalities are tractor-related.
Monroe County had a tractor fatality a little more than a year ago.
Tractor hazards are grouped into the following four categories; overturns, runovers, power take-off entanglements and older tractors. Tractor overturns accounts for about half of all tractor fatalities. Some common tractor overturns include:
• Turning or driving too close to the edge of a bank or ditch. Monroe County has over 1,300 miles of drainage and had a death recently due to a farmer mowing too close to a ditch bank resulting in an overturn.
• Driving too fast on rough roads or lanes and running off the road.
• Hitching somewhere other than the drawbar when pulling or towing objects.
• Driving a tractor straight up a steep slope instead of backing up.
• Turning at tractor sharply with a front end loader raised high.
A rollover protective structure (ROPS), a structural steel cage designed to surround the operator, including those built into an enclosed cab, can protect the operator from being killed when a tractor overturns. This is especially true if the operator has fastened the seat belt, standard equipment on all tractors equipped with a ROPS.
In the U.S., standards for ROPS design and utilization for tractors were first developed in 1967 by the American Society for Agricultural and Biological Engineers. ROPS legislation was passed in 1975 with OHSA requiring that all tractors manufactured from October 25, 1976 be equipped with ROPS. Since 1985, this safety standard applies to new tractors over 20 horsepower. Retrofit kits are available for older tractors.
Before 2007 tractors were required to be equipped with at least one lighted white light on the front and one red light on the rear. Since 2007 tractors came equipped with two white lights on the front, two red lights on the rear, two amber flashing warming lamps, turn indicators and red reflective devices on the rear. The amber lights could b flashing, rotating or oscillating.
Slow Moving Vehicle (SMC) emblems and additional red reflectors on the outboard edges are required on any implement of husbandry and farm tractor.