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Tractor and Machinery Safety


by Dr. Aaron Yoder, Penn State University

Tractors and machinery play an important role on most farms, so it is no surprise that they are a leading source of agricultural injuries and deaths. Tractors provide power and adaptability to many farm tasks. However, there can also be a safety risk involved. Some of the hazards are easily found where others are hidden.

Learning about the risks of using tractors is one way of preventing injury. There are many farm safety resources available from many different places, including those mentioned here. But remember, always THINK about what you are going to do before you do it.

Education prevents injuries . . .

The U. S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) is supporting our efforts through the Youth Farm Safety Education and Certification Program (YFSEC). This program supports national efforts to deliver timely, pertinent, and appropriate training to youth seeking employment or already employed in agricultural production. The program has critical ties to the current regulations for youth employment in agriculture, especially the exemptions provided in 29 CFR Part 570, subpart E-1 for youth under the age of 16 employed in some agricultural occupations which are currently being revised by the US Department of Labor. Significant changes in agricultural production and in the agricultural workforce since this regulation took effect in the early 1970's have encouraged the USDA to consider training and certification innovations along with developing appropriate training and restrictions on youth employment in hazardous agricultural jobs.

This program raises farm safety awareness and the legal issues related to hiring youth to work on farms. It directs educators, youth, and potential employers to resources which can be used to help youth obtain the certifications required by law so they can work in agriculture.

Materials created by these programs are also useful for teaching farm safety and tractor and machinery safety to older teens, new farmers, migrant and seasonal farm workers, hobby farmers, and even traditional farmers.

The National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program (NSTMOP) is a new generation of training materials to teach agricultural safety. These materials are broken down into individual topics and presented in groups. NSTMOP training better prepares individuals for dealing with the hazards of working on a farm. The subjects covered by the program include general agricultural safety, tractor and equipment operation, crop and livestock production, and highway transportation.

Employers, workers, and instructors can find more information about the NSTMOP on the web. More NSTMOP resources can also be found on Twitter at AgSafety4u account and on YouTube.

The Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice at is another excellent resource on general farm safety. This resource is being developed with funding from and CHS Inc. This group contains information that was contributed by safety professionals from across the nation. Specifically, the FReSH community is dedicated to providing accurate and timely information to individuals involved with agriculture, the professional development of agricultural safety and health professionals and preventing agricultural injuries and illnesses through best practices. FReSH provides opportunities for sharing information from research and intervention programs, improving professional skills and knowledge, networking and other supportive activities. You can findmore information from the FReSH community.

Make safety a part of your everyday chores. Remember, always THINK about what you are going to do before you do it, and prepare yourself for work by learning about the hazards that are present at your worksite.

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