Tractor safety is no accident

If you grew up on a farm, you know how important tractors and other machinery are for getting the job done. But it's what you don’t know about your machinery that could hurt you.

A dangerous job
In the United States, agriculture is one of the deadliest jobs — more dangerous even than mining and construction. In 2012, 374 farm workers died in work-related injuries (20.2 deaths per 100,000 workers).

Every day, 167 agricultural workers suffer injuries that cause loss of work time, and 5 percent of these injuries result in permanent impairment.  According to the National Ag Safety Database, one-quarter of farm accidents involve machinery running over a victim, and one-half involve an overturned tractor or ATV. Other common farm accidents involve entanglement in machinery, PTO shafts, and augers.

Youth and agricultural accidents
Since 1969, the U.S. Department of Labor has declared that many ag-related jobs are hazardous to youth. Even now, about 75 young people under the age of 16 die in farm-related accidents each year. Federal law now requires that 14- and 15-year-olds be certified through a tractor and machinery safety course to be employed for farm work. Some states even require this certification for youth working on their own family’s farm.

Courses benefit youth and adults
Tractor and machinery safety courses are essential for youth, but can be great refreshers for adults too. Courses typically cover the types of risks and regulations related to agricultural health and safety; age-appropriate tasks; safe clothing and protective equipment; first aid; operation of tractors, skid steers, and ATVs; and connecting and using implements. While many instructional resources are available online, including student manuals and videos, a class must have a hands-on skills and driving test to offer certification.

You may typically find these courses through area 4-H clubs, a school’s FFA, technical colleges, or university extensions.