Penn State Extension
Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Agricultural Safety and Health Program
There are many new owner/operators and workers entering production agriculture, agricultural services, forestry, landscaping, golf course maintenance, and other businesses and services where agricultural tractors are used. Add to these numbers the many volunteers that mow school and church yards, cemeteries, little league ball fields and community parks, and the grounds of service clubs and organizations such as the Elks, Lions Club, VFWs, and others. Fewer people are growing up on farms or learning to operate tractors as part of a planned learning activity over time. Relatively new and untrained operators can benefit from training from experienced operators.
The manual has been developed to help farmers, employers and other experienced operators with organizing and conducting hands-on safe tractor driving workshops for your own employees, volunteers, and family members. Safe hitching and attachment of equipment is included. Workshops such as these can vary widely depending upon the needs of the farm operators and employers, and we provide options for varied types of training needs. You may decide to conduct training in a single day or may break the training into two or more days depending on how many persons need training and how intensive you want the training to be. You may want to join forces with neighbors or others for training, but this may bring liability issues to the forefront so be sure to check with your insurance carrier first.
The suggestions listed below are most useful when several workers need training and when the majority of them have little to no experience with tractors. You should scan through all the parts of this manual before making any firm decisions about how to organize your training workshop.
Identifying the number and characteristics of instructors, tractors, machines and driving courses are factors to be considered. Suggestions include the following.
If you lack confidence, time, or expertise to conduct the training yourself, in many cases there are resource persons with whom you may be able to call upon. Consider these resource candidates:
- Machinery dealer/salespersons
- Older and/or retired farmers in the community
- High School Ag teachers
- Cooperative Extension personnel
- College students with appropriate experience
Secure the resource person well in advance of the projected training program as the resource person needs time to visit your operation to become familiar with your tractors and equipment.
This section offers ideas for organizing the information to be taught to new operators about safe tractor operation. Depending upon qualifications and experiences, instructors may only need to glance at this material as a refresher, or may want to follow it closely.
Intensity of training may range from an expectation of a basic exposure to tractors to a fully proficient tractor operator. It is important that trainees become comfortable with tractor controls and with starting, moving and stopping the tractor before expecting them to master maneuvers such as tight turns, backing or attaching 3-point mounted equipment. They should understand basic rules of the road before being allowed to operate a tractor on a public road. Specific instructional details are contained in task sheets identified below for beginning and more experienced training. The task sheets are listed in Appendix A or can be accessed via the Internet at www.nstmop.psu.edu, click on Download the Task Sheets (the rest of the Student Manual). Depending on the equipment used and training given, not all task sheets may be needed.
|Suggested Task Sheets for Safe Tractor Operator Training1|
See Appendix A:
|Beginning Trainee||Experienced Trainee|
|General Issues: Tractor Hazards; Tractor Stability; Using the Tractor Safely, Public Road Use; Noise Hazards/Hearing Protection; Hand Signals, Front-end Loaders||4.2, 4.12, 4.13, 4.14, 6.4,3.2, 2.9||X||X|
|Pre-Op Checklist: Preventive Maintenance & Pre-Operation Checks; Fuel, Oil & Coolant Levels; Lead Acid Batteries; Tire & Wheel Condition||4.6, 4.6.1, 4.6.2, 4.6.5||X||X|
|Instrument Panel||4.4||X||X- new models|
|Tractor Controls: Engine Stop; Ground Motion; Power Engagement; Positioning & Adjusting; Location & Movement||4.5 through 4.5.5||X||C- review with new models|
|Tractor Operating Symbols||4.5.6||X||X-review with new models|
|Standard Shift Transmissions||4.10.1||X|
|Other Transmissions||4.10.2||X||X- new models|
|Moving and Steering||4.10, 4.11||X|
|Hitching - Drawbar||5.1 and 5.2||X|
|Hitching - 3 PT hitch||5.1 and 5.3||X|
|PTO Connections||5.4 and 5.4.1||X|
This section has several suggestions involving the actual conduct of a safe tractor driving workshop. Learning activities should proceed in a logical order starting with the simplest of concepts and tasks. The length of any workshop will depend upon the number of trainees, their experience levels, and how competent you want them to be at the end of the training. You may wish to conduct two or three workshops that are only a couple hours each, especially for new tractor drivers, or you may want a workshop that is closer to an all-day event. A good training session will allow adequate time for trainees to ask questions and to not feel rushed during learning exercises.
Below are suggestions for several learning activities that could make up a safe tractor driving workshop. These major components consist of pre-operational checks of tractors, mounting and dismounting, learning how to operate the major controls, maneuvering the tractor around or through simple markers (e.g., traffic cones, stakes, straw bales), backing the tractor, and hitching to equipment. Backing the tractor with a two-wheeled piece of equipment (e.g., trailer, manure spreader, grain drill) and hitching to 3-pt mounted equipment are activities that add complexity and time to workshops. Hitching to 3-pt mounted equipment and equipment with tongues can be practiced as a lone tractor operator activity, or can be done by the tractor operator using a helper.
Here are ideas for conducting specific learning activities. The task sheets listed in Part II are useful as a reference as you move through these activities.
Experience has shown that nothing comes easy or automatic for some if they have never operated a tractor with a clutch. Have the trainee practice depressing the clutch and shifting gears, including reverse, with the engine off. If the tractor is a hydrostatic and/or has a gear range, let them maneuver those controls. As appropriate, be sure they understand that with the clutch depressed the tractor doesn’t move; with the clutch pedal released the tractor does move. Before allowing the trainee to start the tractor, the instructor should stand clear of the tractor wheels and be sure other trainees are stationed well away from the tractor. Instruct the trainee to use as low a gear as possible to start out. Use Task Sheet 4.7 as a reference for the correct sequencing of steps for starting a tractor. You can let the trainee move the tractor straight ahead and then back it to the starting point, or you may let them move it through a driving course. Even trainees who have never been on a tractor before can learn to start and move a tractor around a few traffic cones in a short period of time.
Below is a suggested agenda if you want to conduct a five hour safe tractor driving workshop for 10 trainees with two instructors and two tractors. The agenda includes starting off with a general discussion of tractor safety issues which helps to set the stage for the rest of the day. Suggested times and activities can be adjusted depending upon your needs and resources. A schedule like this would utilize a simple driving course. By adding one hour, students could practice driving both tractors.
|General Safety Issues
PTO Hazard Demonstration
ROPS w/seat belt
Front-end loaders/Center of Gravity
Seat Adjustment, Seat Belt
Starting and Stopping Tractor Engine
|Driving - Tractor 1 (5 students)
Driving - Tractor 2 (5 students)
|Hitching and PTO Hook-up
--Tractor/Equipment 1 (5 students)
--Tractor/Equipment 2 (5 students)
|Questions and Answers (Q & A)||2:30-2:45 pm|
As with driving courses, evaluating a trainee’s tractor operating performance can be very simple or more sophisticated. The very simplest approach is to merely watch and provide verbal feedback. More formal evaluations provide trainees with more detailed information about their performance, particularly in areas of operation where they may need more work. Ratings of Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory or Not Applicable can be used. The following pages show examples of evaluation forms for a tractor pre-operation inspection and driving and for an evaluation form that could be used with trainees to hitch or attach equipment. You may want to use these or adapt parts of them to suit your own needs.
This form can be used to evaluate trainee’s ability to perform a pre-operation check, safely mount and dismount, start the tractor, perform simple maneuvers, stop and park and dismount the tractor.
This manual was developed by Dennis J. Murphy, Professor, Agricultural Safety and Health, and William C. Harshman, Extension Assistant, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, College of Agricultural Sciences, University Park, PA. This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2010-49200-06201.
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