Summary of Farm Tractor and Machinery Operation Program

  • Ayers, Paul;
  • Legault, Malcolm L.;
  • Dickson, Monte;
  • Johnson, Chris


This packet is designed to help you with the preliminary preparation, set-up, logistics and presentation of this Farm Tractor and Machinery Operation Program. A majority of the program concerns the operation of tractors and equipment. This will help us, as educators and leaders of agriculture, in producing youths that are capable of operating such equipment safely and efficiently. This program is an important step in insuring students' safety. Safety is probably not, to youth; their main motivation is probably their potential earnings. Employment can be gained for 14- and 15-year olds after successful completion of the Farm Tractor and Machinery Operation Program. With your help, we can make safety an important factor in their lives. Remember, no one is immune to accidents and no machine is completely safe.


  1. To help present and future operators of tractors and machinery work safely and efficiently;
  2. To qualify youth of ages 14 and 15 for employment in the operation of farm tractors and machinery as specified in the Federal Department of Labor orders;
  3. Each student will be able to state their own definition of safety and give their own basic philosophy about safety in general;
  4. Each student will have a working knowledge and understanding of how and where to get emergency assistance for a variety of situations;
  5. Although the students should not be working with pesticides (other than Category III); they will be able to:
    • recognize warning signals and/or statements of pesticides,
    • find the precautionary statement on pesticide containers, and
    • have a general knowledge of what to do in the event of a pesticide spill or emergency;
  6. Each student will have at least a basic understanding of the relationship between hazardous materials and the environment.

The reason for the regulations pertaining to youth which were developed under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and the Workmen's Compensation laws is the realization that agriculture is the most hazardous occupation in the U.S. Agricultural workers are approximately 4 percent of the total nation's work force, 9 percent of disabling injuries and 16 percent of the occupational deaths. It is critical that we as agricultural educators work to decrease the appalling disproportionate number of disabling injuries and deaths that occur an our industry.


The Purpose of this act is to:
  1. Prohibit the employment of children under 16, without special permission, in occupations declared particularly hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.
  2. Prohibit the employment in any of the occupations listed below in items c. through k.
Particularly Hazardous Occupations are defined as:
  1. Operating a tractor over as PTO horsepower, or connecting or disconnecting an implement or any of its parts to or from such a tractor.
  2. Operating or assisting to operate (including starting, stopping, adjusting, feeding,or any other activity involving physical contact associated with the operation) any of the following machines:
    • Corn picker, cotton picker, grain combine, hay mower, forage harvester, hay baler, potato digger or mobile pea viner;
    • Feed grinder, crop dryer, forage blower, auger conveyor, or the unloading mechanism of a nongravity-type self-loading wagon or trailer; or
    • Power post-hole digger, power post driver, or nonwalking rotary tiller.
  3. Operating or assisting to operate (including starting, stopping, adjusting, feeding, or any other activity involving physical contact associated with the operation) any of the following machines:
    • Trencher or earthmoving equipment;
    • Fork lift;
    • Potato combine; or
    • Power-driven circular, band or chain saw.
  4. Working on a farm in a yard, pen or stall occupied by
    • Bull, boar or stud horse maintained for breeding purposes; or
    • Sow with suckling pigs or cow with newborn calf (with umbilical cord present).
  5. Felling, bucking, skidding, loading, or unloading timber with butt diameter of more than 6 inches.
  6. Working from a ladder or scaffold (painting, repairing, or building structures, pruning trees, picking fruit, etc.) at a height of over 20 feet.
  7. Driving a bus, truck, or automobile when transporting passengers, or riding on a tractor as a passenger or helper.
  8. Working inside:
    • A fruit, forage, or grain storage designed to retain an oxygen deficient or toxic atmosphere;
    • An upright silo within two weeks after silage has been added or when a top unloading device is in the operating position;
    • A manure pit; or
    • A horizontal silo while operating a tractor for packing purposes.
  9. Handling or applying (including cleaning or decontaminating equipment, disposal or return of empty containers, or serving as a flagman for aircraft applying) agricultural chemicals classified under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 135 et seq.) as Category I of toxicity identified by the word "poison" and the "skull and crossbones" on the label; or Category II of toxicity identified by the word "warning" on the label;
  10. Handling or using a blasting agent, including but not limited to, dynamite, black powder, sensitized ammonium nitrate, blasting caps, and primer cord; or
  11. Transporting, transferring, or applying anhydrous ammonia.
Employment not Permitted:
  1. No minor under 16 may work during school hours except on the home farm for parents.
  2. Without special permission no minor under 16 may work at any tome in occupations declared particularly hazardous.
Employment permitted:
  1. Minors 16 and over may be employed on a farm at anytime in any farm job.
  2. Minors under 16 may work for parents at any time in any Job.
  3. Minors under 16 may work outside school hours at farm jobs not declared particularly hazardous.
  4. Minors 14- and 15-years old trained under:
    • The 4-H Federal Extension Service Training Program
    • Or the U.S. Office of Education Vocational Agriculture Training Program
    may work outside school hours on farm equipment on which they have been trained.

Exemptions allow employment of minors 14- and 15-years old in farm jobs declared particularly hazardous. Minors under 16 may be employed if:

  1. They have successfully completed one or more of the following training programs:
    • 4-H tractor operation
    • 4-H machine operation
    • Tractor and machine operation (program offered in this packet)
  2. They have been instructed by employers on safe and proper operation of the specific equipment used.
  3. They are continuously and closely supervised or are checked by an employer at least at midmorning, noon, and midafternoon.

Qualifications for employment of youth under age 16 in hazardous occupations include:

  1. Age of 14-years or older.
  2. Completion of a 4-hour orientation course of familiarization with hazards in agriculture.
  3. Completion of a 20-hour training program on safe operation of tractors and farm machinery.
  4. Passing grade on a written examination on tractor and farm machinery safety.
  5. Demonstrated ability to operate a tractor with a 2-wheel, trailed implement on a course similar to the 4-H Tractor Operator's Contest, and to operate machinery safely.
An employer must have a signed copy of the training certificate which certifies that all requirements have been met on file.

The Training Certificate

The training certificate is not a driver's license. It consists of trainee personal data, certificate number, certification by instructor and certifying authority, employer's information regarding trainee qualification and responsibilities of the employer, and a list of hazardous occupations. A copy of training certificate is located in item 10 of this packet.

Penalties for violation

Penalties for violation of the Child-Labor Requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act:
  • First offense--up to $10,000 for willful violation.
  • Second offense--not more than $10,000 fine and/or not more than six months imprisonment.
Violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act is very easy to avoid as this course is available to all Extension Agents and Vocational Agriculture Teachers.

RESOURCES (What is in the Packet)

Within the packet are:
  1. The Colorado State University bulletin room telephone number and costs for obtaining the student manuals and certificates.
  2. The instructor and student manuals.
  3. An example of a newspaper article that has date, time, location and who is presenting the program left blank.
  4. A suggested timing for the presentation of this program.
  5. An example of a flyer giving the date, time, location and the presenter of the program.
  6. A list of audio-visual aids that are available from either the District Extension Offices and/or the Extension Safety personnel at Colorado State University.
  7. A recommendation of available audio-visual aids for the Farm Tractor and Machinery Operation Program.
  8. A list of equipment dealers who may cooperate with the loan or nominal lease of tractors and equipment to be used in this program.
  9. The names and telephone numbers of the Extension Safety personnel who will help with set up of the Form Tractor and Machinery Operation Program.
  10. A copy of Farm Tractor and Machinery Operation certificate.
More Information on the Packet

Item 1:

The Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Bulletin Room 171 Aylesworth Hall South West, (303) 491-6198.

Item 2:

The instructor's and student's manuals for the Farm Tractor and Machinery Operation Program are the Safe Operation of Agricultural Equipment-Instructor's Manual and Safe Operation of Agricultural Equipment-Student Manual.

Item 3:

Following is an example of a press release that can be sent to local newspapers. This press release explains the importance of the Farm Tractor and Machinery operation Program. The only requirement is filling in the blanks with the pertinent information:


This program will be held: ____________________________
Dates: _____________________
Time(s): _____________________
Place: _____________________
and it will be taught by: _________________________

The program is available to 14- and 15-year old youths interested in working on a farm or ranch, (other than the family farm). By successfully participating and completing this program, youths will become eligible for employment. Youths under the age of 14 will be allowed to participate in this program but will not become eligible for employment until after their 14th birthday. This fulfills the tractor and machinery safety training standards set by the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and the Workman's Compensation laws. These standards are set to protect youths working in particularly hazardous occupations; and farming/ranching is the most hazardous occupation in the United States. Since the hazards of agriculture work are so great, this is ideal for those youths working on the home farm or ranch. Valuable safety training is incorporated into the Farm Tractor and Equipment Operation Program. The program can possibly save a life or disabling injury.

After completion of this program, the youth needs to bring the certificate of completion to his/her prospective employer. Without this certificate, it is illegal to hire youths under the age of 16. It is illegal to hire youths, outside of the family, under the age of 14 for any farm or ranch work. The penalty for doing so is: up to $10,000 for the first offense for willful violation and up to $10,000 and/or up to 6 months imprisonment. This program will prevent the need to worry about violating a law.

Item 4:

Suggested timing for the program:
  • Session 1: Follow the guidelines from Chapters 1, 2 and 3 in the instructor's manual.
  • Session 2: Follow the guidelines from Chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the instructor's manual.
  • Session 3: Follow the guidelines from Chapters 8, 9, 10 and 11 in the instructor's manual.
  • Session 4:
    • Each student should define safety in their own terms--share these definitions with the people in the program--have each student develop their own Safety philosophy;
    • Each student must know what to do in case of an emergency at the home farm/ranch or farm/ranch of employment.
  • Session 5:
    • Develop general knowledge of how to work with pesticides;
    • Understand the relationship between hazardous materials and the environment.
  • Session 6:
    • Practical experience on driving a tractor; and/or
    • Operating a tractor through course; and/or
    • A tractor and equipment operating contest.
The above sessions are only suggestions, by Mr. Dick Scott, Area Extension Agent (Southeast Area), and can be changed to suit the needs of the instructor and members of the class.

Item 5:

The flyer for the Farm Tractor and Equipment Operation Program is in the appendix.

Item 6:

The list of audio-visual aids can be found in Section 2 of the Agricultural Safety and Health Handbook.

Item 7:

SESSION #1: Chapters 1, 2 and 3
Farm and Ranch Equipment Safety; 18-minutes
How to Have an Accident; 27-minutes

SESSION #2: Chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7
Case History of Tractor Overturns in Nebraska; 30 minutes
Farm Safety 4 Just Kids; 18 minutes

SESSION #3: Chapters 8, 9, 10 and 11
Grain Storage Safety; 20 minutes
Tractor Accidents--It's Not Going to Happen to Me; 25 minutes

Local Resource People
Auger Rescue; 22-minutes

For the Rest of Your Life; 18-minutes
Farm Chemical Safety Is in Your Hands; 12-minutes
Local Resource People
The above recommendations for audio-visuals were made by Mr. Richard Scott, Area Extension Agent (Southeast Area). Dick has presented the Farm Tractor and Machinery Operation Program several times, and we appreciate his help in putting together the audio-visual list.

Item 8:

The list of dealers, who may help with the practical aspect of this course is in the appendix.

Item 9:

Farm/ranch safety personnel:
  • Dr. Paul Ayers
  • Mr. Mac Legault
  • Ms. Sharon Patterson

105 Engineering South
Department of Agricultural and Chemical Engineering
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(303) 491-6172

Item 10:

A copy of the Farm Tractor and Equipment Operation Program can be found on page 4 of the Safe Operation of Agricultural Equipment-Student Manual.

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