Before operating a tractor or allowing employees to drive a tractor a certain level of familiarity with the equipment should be required. Basic hands-on training should be provided to employees who will be operating a tractor or other farm equipment. An excellent resource for employees is the operator’s manual, which will be able to tell them how to safely check the operating systems of the machine including engine oil, hydraulic fluid levels, coolant, tire pressure, etc. These items should be checked before each use to ensure safe and effective operation. Most tractors will have stickers or signs around the cab denoting specific safety concerns and requirements for safe operation. These should be thoroughly understood before and followed during operation. Further, employees should be dressed appropriately for operating machinery which includes no loose fitting clothing, sturdy work boots with no laces or securely tied laces and safety glasses.
Below are some general considerations for safe operation of a piece of equipment:
• Always mount and dismount a tractor or other piece of equipment properly using three points of contact, facing
the piece of machinery; never dismount a piece of equipment facing away from it
• Avoid carrying objects while mounting or dismounting to ensure the use of three points of contact.
• If you must have something in the cab with you such as drinks, tools, etc. place them in the cab from the ground
• Do not carry extra passengers on tractors whether in the cab or on the steps of the equipment.
• Some tractors may be equipped with a buddy seat and seat belt, there should only be as many passengers
as there are seatbelts
• Avoid by-pass starting a tractor; if a manual transmission is in gear when the engine is started, the tractor could run over the operator because the tractor will start moving as soon as the engine turns over
• Always check your surroundings before driving the tractor, especially when workers or pedestrians are present.
• Establish contact with workers on the ground to signal what movements you are about to make with the tractor to avoid entrapping or running over a worker
• Never assume the worker knows what you’re going to do or sees you without establishing eye contact and communication
• Always maintain reasonable speeds while operating to ensure stability while moving forward or in reverse
• Never depress the clutch to coast downhill, allow the low gearing of the tractor to maintain a reasonable speed
• Always keep brakes locked together to prevent the possibility of depressing a single side at high speed, leading to a rollover; certain instances may call for unlocked brakes at low speeds