Tractor Owners Manual: Part I Tractor Safety
A tractor can be a great investment to help you can get tasks done faster, more effectively, and still give you time to enjoy your property, animals, family and friends. For most tractor owners, the ability to accomplish jobs they otherwise couldn’t and not having to rely on contractors or other to take care of their property is enough to make the initial investment.
Owning and operating a tractor may be more complicated than it initially appears, but with the right information and “tractor know how”, it doesn’t have to be a chore. One of the most important elements is tractor safety. The National Agricultural Tractor Safety Initiative reports that tractors cause about 130 deaths annually, and that the most common type of tractor accident is tractor rollovers. The U.S. Department of Labor (USDL) reports that 44% of tractor accidents are due to tractor rollovers.
Whether you are interested in safety because you are interested in new tractors, or you have many years of experience and just want to brush up or learn some great tractor safety tips, there is something here for everyone. If you intend to operate a tractor, knowing tractor safety is an absolute must for everyone.
With that said, let’s get started!
The Importance of a Tractor Operator’s Manual
The first and foremost source of information on owning, using, and maintaining any tractor is the Operator's Manual that is supplied with all tractors. The Operator's Manual is an indispensable part of tractor and should be readily accessible for reference. Carefully read the manual to get familiar with it, as it contains great information and detailed instructions that are extremely helpful using the tractor correctly and safely. Also, when using any implement together with the tractor, also refer to the tractor operator's manuals of both the tractor and the implement in order to understand and use the implement correctly and most efficiently.
Most tractor operator's manuals are organized with sections arranged in a particular order so that the operator can better understand the safety messages and the controls on the tractor. The manual will also help answer most questions about operating and servicing the tractor.
Many people underestimate the dangers involved with tractors. The 2010 U.S. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries found that 44% of tractor accidents are due to tractor rollovers. The National Agricultural Tractor Safety Initiative reports that tractors cause about 130 deaths annually. If operated and maintained correctly tractors can be very safe and enjoyable, however tractor proper tractor uses, and safety are to be taken very seriously.
Safety Precautions Before Operating Any Tractor
Understand the performance and limitations of the tractor. Carefully study the Operator's Manual and learn the instructions in the Manual before operating or servicing any tractor. Always Keep the Operator's Manual easily Accessible. Strictly adhere to all statements and warnings delineated. Review all DANGER, WARNING and CAUTION safety decals attached to the tractor.
Do not operate a tractor with the Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) in the folded "down" position. Keep the retractable seat belt fastened while operating the tractor with the CAB or Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) in the unfolded "up" position. The preceding practice will reduce the possibility of injury or death in the event of roll over accident. If the Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) or CAB has been removed for any reason, ensure to install all the associated parts before operating the tractor. NEVER alter a Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) or CAB as an altered or damaged structure (ROPS) or CAB may fail to provide the designed protection as intended. Replace a damaged Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) or CAB immediately.
Remember that when the Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) is in the "down" position, the Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) does not provide operator protection. For operator safety, always keep the Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) in the unfolded "up" position and locked securely.
Check overhead clearance carefully before driving under power lines, wires, bridges or low hanging tree branches, before entering or leaving buildings, or in any other situation where the operator and/or Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) or CAB may be struck, which could result in serious injury. Make sure to maintain enough overhead clearance above the tractor.
Avoid allowing passenger/s on any portion of the tractor. Always remain seated in the operator seat while operating the tractor. Make sure that the brakes and other mechanical components are properly adjusted and do not have excessive wear. Immediately replace all excessively worn out or damaged components. At regular intervals, check that all nuts, bolts and screws are properly tightened.
Keep the tractor clean. Dust, grease or grass clippings accumulated on the tractor can lead to fire or injury. Use the handholds, running boards, and steps when getting on and off the tractor to help prevent accidental falls. Keep them clear of mud and debris.
Do not modify a tractor on your own. Modification can be detrimental to the performance and safety of the tractor and lead to injury or damage.
Safe Practices When Operating a Tractor
Starting a Tractor
Remain seated in the operator seat when starting a tractor engine operating the levers or controls. NEVER start the engine or operate controls while standing beside the tractor. Before starting the engine, ensure that all the levers are in the N (neutral) positions, the parking brake is engaged securely, and Power Take Off (PTO) switch is in the OFF position. Always keep the retractable seat belt fastened around the operator's waist. Only start the engine of the tractor only by using the starter key switch. Do not start the engine by short circuiting across the starter solenoid or by any other manner. Before operation, check that all the safety features are functioning correctly. Check their proper operation regularly. Avoid accidental contact with control pedals while the engine is running, as this can cause unexpected movement of the tractor.
Stopping a Tractor
Make sure that the accelerator/drive pedals are completely released. Depress the brake pedals to stop the tractor. Move the reverse lever to the N (neutral) position and engage the parking brake completely. Before dismounting a tractor, always switch the engine to the off position first.
General Operating Safety
Tow implements only with the drawbar and do not hitch anything to the axle housing. The tractor can become unbalanced and lead to serious injury or death. Make sure the drawbar pin is locked in place. Make sure that all the covers and guards are in position. Replace any missing or damaged covers immediately and before any further operation of a tractor.
Before turning, stopping, or traveling on a rough terrain, always decrease tractor speed. Extra caution is required when operating over rough or uneven ground and turning corners. Avoid turning with the differential lock engaged as this can lead to a tractor roll over.
Stay clear of ditches, potholes, embankments, ponds or on soft or wet ground. Before entering an area covered with tall grass, inspect the area to detect any obstacles. Always pay attention to blind corners, trees and another object that can obstruct the operator's vision. When people are working in the area, keep in good communication with each other.
Main Tractor Components – Names and General Functions
Front tires: Support the front part of the tractor and allows the tractor to roll.
Headlights: Provide illumination in front of the tractor.
Hood: Covers and protects the engine.
Side mirrors: Sit on the operator's seat and adjust the left and right side mirrors so that the rear of the tractor can be seen. The side mirrors can be adjusted by hand.
Work lights: Used to light the area while working. Turn this off when traveling on the road.
Windshield wipers: Cleans the windshield.
Turn signal/hazard lights (AMBER), Position lamps (CLEAR): Used to turn, hazard or position.
Fender: Keeps mud away from the operator.
Rear tires: Supports the back part of the tractor and allows the tractor to travel.
Step: Used when getting on/off the tractor.
Tail lights: Provide illumination at the rear of the tractor
Turn signal/hazard lights: Used to warn that the tractor is about to turn left or right. Also used to warn of an emergency situation.
Fuel filler cap: Where the fuel nozzle is inserted to fill the fuel tank.
Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblem: To identify the tractor as a slow moving vehicle to other motorists.
Window washer tank: Tank for storing window washer fluid.
3 Point Top link: Used to adjust angle or position of an implement.
3 Point Top link hook: Used to hold the top link when the top link is not in use.
Tractor Power Take Off (PTO) Shaft: Transmits rotational force from the tractor to implements.
3 Point Implement side-to-side stabilizer: Component that horizontally stabilizes a hitched implement.
3 Point Lower links: Connects and holds an implement to tractor 3 point hitch.
Tractor Drawbar: Used to pull or tow an implement.
To Be Continued....