Keep tractor safety in mind during storm, flood cleanup

June 19, 2008 07:00 PM

Tornadoes, flooding, high winds and hail – all have hit parts of the country's heartland, and all require cleanup of one sort or another.

Tractors will play a part in plenty of that cleanup, so keeping certain safety measures in mind will be important, said Kerri Ebert, who works with farm safety issues in Kansas State University's AgrAbility program. AgrAbility is part of K-State Research and Extension.

"Some tractors will be operated by the owner, but many will be operated by someone who has borrowed a tractor and is unfamiliar with its operation. The combination of inexperience and heavy workloads can be a recipe for disaster,” Ebert said.

She provided several tips for safe tractor operation:

  • If the tractor is equipped with a rollover protective structure (ROPS), buckle the seatbelt.
  • When using a loader bucket, keep the load low and drive slowly.
  • Be vigilant about rear overturn hazards when pulling other vehicles that may be stuck or using the tractor for stump removal. A rear overturn can happen in less than 2 seconds.
  • Never allow extra riders.
  • Do not hitch above the drawbar when pulling or towing loads of debris.
  • If a tractor must be operated across a slope, use the widest possible wheel adjustment, drive at very slow speeds and watch for obstacles. Turning on a slope increases the likelihood of an overturn, so drive and then back up. Turn the front wheels downhill at the first indication the tractor may be becoming unstable.
  • Do not get too close to the edge of embankments or ditches.
  • Be cautious. If public road travel is necessary, use slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblems and lights.

More tractor safety information is available from county and district Extension offices or at the K-State Extension Ag Safety Web site:

For questions or comments, e-mail the Beef Today editors.
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