Machinery such as tractors and power tools, pose the greatest
injury risk on the farm. Nation-wide in 1990 there were 1,300
deaths and 120,000 disabling injuries in the profession of
agriculture. Of these deaths and injuries, 46% of the injuries
and 64% of the deaths were tractor and machinery related (1,3,6).
It is important to be safety conscious when dealing with any
job that requires the use of machinery. Statistics show that
the majority of machinery related accidents occur as the result
of human negligence. Errors include taking shortcuts to save
time, failure to read the operators manual, ignoring a warning,
improper or lack of instruction and failure to follow safety
most commonly utilized pieces of equipment around the farm
are tractors, trucks, wagons, mowers, spreaders, grinders,
blowers, augers, post hole diggers, shredders, balers, rakes,
combines, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). No matter how different
they are in structure, they all, if used improperly or carelessly,
can be fatal. 50% of total farm fatalities involve tractors
(See Figure 1), and 14% are machinery related. A breakdown
of the machinery related fatalities are as followed; 34% corn
pickers, 11% silage handling, 11% hay baling, 11% manure handling,
and 33% other miscellaneous farm machinery1 (See
Safety statistics show that the majority of farm-related injuries
occur between 10 a.m. and noon, with the period between 3
and 5 p.m. second highest4. It has been established
that these time periods are when fatigue is most likely to
occur, and concentration is not as sharp. It is a good practice
to take periodic breaks to lessen fatigue. Climbing down off
the tractor and walking around for a couple of minutes will
help relieve stress and boredom.
have the highest rate of machinery-related injuries and fatalities.
Workers over the age of 65 do not have an excessive number
of injuries, but the likelihood of an injury being fatal is
the greatest3. Between 1985 and 1989, 50% of total
farm fatalities involved children under the age of 14 and
workers over the age of 65. In the over 65 age group, two-thirds
of the fatalities were tractor related. The majority of child
deaths resulted rom being extra passengers on machinery and
being run-over1. The most common injuries in children
involving equipment include: corn or grain augers, tractors,
ATVs, power take-offs, belt or chain attachments, hay balers,
and pitch-forks. Because of the seriousness of machinery-related
accidents, many injuries result in permanent disabilities;
such as the loss of an arm, leg, fingers, toes, or a decreased
range of motion. More than three-quarters require surgery
or antibiotic treatment for bacterial infection or both5.
where machinery and power tools are stored should be located
far enough away from structures that house livestock and
hay in case of fire.
storage tanks should preferably be located below ground,
and a minimum of 40 feet from the nearest structure. Fuel
cannot be stored in the same structure as machinery or power
tools. Tanks should be properly vented. If above ground,
the area around the tank should be free of litter, weeds
and any fuel spills that could aid in starting or accelerating
the spread of a fire. Fuel tanks should be adequately protected
from being struck by machinery. An approved 10 B:C fire
extinguisher should be located near all fuel pumps and tanks.
lines coming into the building should be high enough to
facilitate equipment passing underneath.
systems in machine sheds should be sufficient for the power
tools and equipment that will require the use of electric
outlets should be of the three-prong grounded type.
storage buildings should not be used to store debris.
on machine sheds should be wide enough for machinery to
safely pass through without being caught. Doors also need
to pull or slide open and close freely in case of an emergency.
should be clearly marked.
should be lockable to keep out children and unwanted visitors.
surfaces should be level and smooth, free of bumps and protruding
should be parked so there is enough space for a person to
walk completely around it.
should have adequate ventilation for the starting or running
of an engine within the structure. (Note - engines should
not be left running inside a building for a prolonged period
of time unless exhaust is properly being vented externally).
tools and accessory equipment should be kept picked up and
stored in their proper place, e.g., air hoses, oil cans,
spare tires, jacks.
should always be removed from all equipment or machinery
to prevent children or unauthorized people from starting
not allow non-employees inside the machine shed. Children
should never be allowed to play around or inside the machine
shed or on farm machinery itself.
important to be able to recognize potential hazardous areas
on machinery. Theses areas include: pinch points, shear points,
cutting points, crush points, wrap pints, and springs.
Point is an area where two rotating surfaces meet such as
feed rollers, gears or a belt running around a pulley. Extremities
can be caught in pinch points directly, or be drawn in by
loose fitting clothing that has become entangled in the
Point is an area where the edges of two surfaces come together
in a manner so as to cut a softer material placed between
the surfaces. Shear points are found on shrubbery shears
or grain augers. The resulting injury is usually amputation.
Point is found on machinery designed to cut such as mowers
and harvesters. The blades move with a rapid motion often
unseen by the eye. Injuries are of the same nature as those
caused by a shear point.
Points occur when two objects are joined; either with both
ends moving towards each other or with one being stationary.
Fingers and hands are often injured by crushing between
a draw bar and wagon hitch. Numerous fatalities occur when
people helping the operator or the operator him/herself
is crushed between pieces of equipment or equipment and
a solid object such as a wall or tree.
are found on numerous pieces of farm machinery. When a spring
is compressed, 'energy' is 'stored' within the spring. When
the spring is expanded, the energy is released. The larger
the spring the greater the amount of energy produced. When
springs break they explode with great force and can inflict
serious damage. It is important to inspect springs regularly
for cracks and wear.
Point is any moving point on a piece of equipment where
clothing or long hair may become entangled such as a Power
Take Off (PTO) shaft. A wrap point grabs the victim and
actually wraps him/her around the moving part or it can
also draw the victim into the machine. Tangled clothing
can wrap tight enough to crush, amputate or suffocate the
victim. All wrap points on machinery should be shielded
A Dangerous Industry", Delmarva Farmer, October 10,1991.
Steven and Dennis J. Murphy, 1985. "Agricultural Hand Signals".
Penn State University Cooperative Extension Service Fact
Clinic. Agricultural Health & Safety Bulletin. 1989.
Micheal. Farm Safety Part I. Agway Cooperator Magazine.
Jane. "It's More Dangerous on the Farm". Hoard's Dairyman
Magazine. August 10, 1991.
Mark A. "Fatal Farm Injuries to Children". Wisconsin Rural
Health Research Center. Marshfield, WI. 1990.
Rollin D. "Safe Tractor Operation". Nebraska Cooperative
Extension EC 89-2103. 1984.
Virginia University Cooperative Extension Service. "Beware
of Farm Machine Hazards". SA-21.4.
Rural Health Research Center. "A
Guide to Tractor Roll Bars and Other Rollover Protective
Publication #: FS619
document is apart of
a series from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Rutgers, the
State University of New Jersey. Publication date: February
R. Margentino, Program Associate in Animal Science, and Karyn
Malinowski, Ph.D., Extension Equine Specialist, Rutgers Cooperative
Extension, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New
Bruswick, NJ 08903.
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in
NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder.