Operational Characteristics of Tractors Driven by Children on Farms in the United States and Canada

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Murphy, Dennis J.;
  • Berg, Richard L.;
  • Marlenga, Barbara L.;
  • Pickett, William


Farm tractors are an important source of traumatic injury for children on farms. There is, however, no documentation about the age and size of tractors that children are operating and little information about the frequency with which rollover protective structures (ROPS) are used. This study described tractors that children on farms in the U.S. and Canada were operating by age, horsepower, and the presence of ROPS, according to the age and gender of the farm children involved. As a sub-analysis of data compiled during a randomized controlled trial, a descriptive analysis was completed on work exposure data collected by telephone interview. Of the 1,113 children involved in the trial, 522 (47%) were reported to perform at least one job that involved the operation of a farm tractor, and 408 (36.7%) were operating tractors of at least 20 horsepower. The majority of these children were male. There was a wide range of ages and sizes of tractors operated. However, the majority of tractors were between 20 and 70 horsepower and manufactured after 1970. Nearly one-half of the tractors were equipped with ROPS, and these tended to be newer and larger tractors. This analysis provides new data about the broad range of tractors driven by farm children in the U.S. and Canada. The findings point to a need to re-examine the reliance on a single voluntary standard to mitigate the hazard of tractor rollovers and the need for an enhanced safety policy requiring all tractors operated by children be equipped with ROPS.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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