Simple ways to stay safe this spring


It is no surprise that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations. A number of factors, including noise, heavy machinery, animals, machine parts that rotate, cut and pinch, and long hours all contribute to this fact.

With the spring planting season approaching (assuming the snow stops, the rain ends and the ground dries) it’s important to think about working safely.

Sad statistics

Over the last 10 years, there have been 254 agricultural fatalities in Ohio. In 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 27 people lost their lives in agricultural related accidents.

Not surprising, the majority of these fatalities were during May and June when planting operations were under way.

While there is a decline after the planting season, fatalities during this 10-year period were also high during the summer hay-making season and the fall harvest season.

Of the 254 fatalities in the 10-year period, 90 people from 41 to 60 years of age were victims. People age 61 to 70 accounted for 41 deaths and 34 people age 71 to 80 lost their lives.

Of the 254 people who died in farm accidents, nearly half involved a tractor. Fifty-nine percent of the tractor accidents were caused by a roll over and 22 percent of the fatalities were caused by being run over by a tractor.

Tractor safety

How can you prevent yourself from becoming a tractor accident statistic? In addition to reviewing the tractor owner’s manual and being familiar with the tractor you are operating, the following nine points should be followed:

  • Securely fasten the seat belt when operating a tractor equipped with a roll over protective structure. There are federal regulations that mandate any agricultural tractor manufactured after Oct. 25, 1976, operated by a farm employee must have a roll over protective structure.
  • Do not permit extra riders. Extra riders cause distractions to the operator.
  • Be cautious when operating a tractor near ditches, embankments, and holes.
  • Reduce speed when turning, crossing slopes, and on rough, slick and muddy surfaces.
  • Stay off slopes too steep for safe operation.
  • Pay attention to where you are going, especially on roadways.
  • Operate the tractor smoothly.
  • Hitch only to the drawbar.
  • When the tractor is stopped, set the brakes securely.

  • Rules for youth

    If you are planning to hire student employees there are several important considerations you need to be aware of related to equipment operation.

    Unless a child ages 14-15 has successfully completed a certification course, they are not allowed to operate any of the following:

  • A tractor over 20 horsepower.
  • Corn picker, feed grinder, forklift, combine, hay baler, or power post driver.
  • Transport, transfer, or apply anhydrous ammonia.
  • Handle or apply Category I and Category II agricultural chemicals.
  • Work with livestock, including male breeding stock and females with newborn young.

  • This is not an exhaustive list and does not address other important points about employment of minors. For specific questions about employment of youth in agriculture, contact your local county extension office or the Ohio Division of Labor.

    Eight points

    As you think about working safely with tractors and other farm equipment remember the Eight Points of Peril:

  • Cut points
  • Pinch points
  • Wrap points
  • Crush points
  • Burn points
  • Thrown objects
  • Stored energy
  • Free-wheeling parts

  • Remembering and following these points each time you work with a tractor or other piece of equipment will help keep you safe.


    When using pesticides it is important to remember that the label is the law. One of the things the label will tell you is what personal protective equipment must be worn when using the product.

    At a minimum, the label will tell you to wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, eye protection and gloves. However, not all gloves are the same and, unless the label says so, it is not recommended you use cotton gloves or rubber gloves with a cotton lining. These materials tend to absorb pesticides easily.

    Instead, use rubber gloves and follow the label directions for specific instructions about the type to use depending on the product you are working with.

    A recent university study evaluating the effectiveness of wearing gloves when handling pesticides found significant reductions in pesticide exposure when gloves were properly used.

    For example, researchers in this study evaluated the effectiveness of gloves when using 2,4-D. Researchers were able to detect 2,4-D at nearly 250 parts per billion on those who did not wear gloves while handling the product.

    By comparison, researchers detected much lower levels (less than 50 parts per billion) of 2,4-D on those who did wear gloves.

    Don’t forget

    Prepare now for the busy planting season ahead and keep in mind these basic farm safety tips.

    Have a successful spring.


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    (Chris Zoller is an agricultural extension educator in Tuscarawas County and a member of the OSU Extension DairyExcel team.)



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