Tractor Operation Safety


  1. Listeners will know where to look for safety rules and information about proper use and operation of tractors.
  2. Listeners will be able to list several steps they should take before operating a piece of equipment.
  3. Listeners will learn several warning signs that could mean trouble while they are operating a tractor.
  4. Students will start to develop a feeling for reactions they should have to stay safe when dangerous situations develop.


Over half of all farm fatalities are a result of a tractor mishap, rollovers being the most common. Runovers are also common, with PTO entanglements happening all too often as well. Many of these accidents could be avoided if the operator had handled the situation differently. Often lack of understanding the machine, its capabilities and limitations, and proper ways to react to the warning signals it sends out result in a tragic accident. Knowledge of some general safety procedures and the importance of learning specific safety information about each piece of machinery used could save many lives and much pain and expense.



Compare two or more machines from the same category or that appear approximately the same, and show how they have distinct differences in capacity and limitations and handling although there are similarities. Examples might be tractors that have been modified with other equipment such as tracks, mounted corn harvesters, combines with the grain tank full and empty, etc. Discuss the differences such equipment could make in the operation of the machine.

Draw on the listeners' experience to make a list of warning signs sent out by a tractor or other self-propelled machine that an operator should be aware of and must react properly to. Appropriate answers might include such things as the front tires bobbing off the ground under certain load conditions, front tires sliding sideways in an attempted turn, the uphill rear tire spinning under a light load, engine stalling from a high speed, or the presence of moving parts near you when you dismount the machine.

Use transparency A to teach basic rules for preparing the operator and the machine for use. Transparency B lists items on the equipment that need to be checked before use for safe operation. Transparency C gives some important rules for safe tractor operation that everyone should know and heed.

It is important to note that this information should not be considered a replacement for the machine's owner's manual, but rather a supplement to it. As mentioned earlier, the differences in each piece of equipment are important and the operator should familiarize himself with each before use.

  1. Check for understanding.
  2. Have the listeners make a list of items that should be checked on a tractor before it is started.
  3. Ask each student to state a safety rule that should be observed while operating a tractor.
  4. Give a typical scenario of a dangerous situation developing and ask listeners to comment about actions that should be taken by the operator. Ask what might happen if proper action isn't taken, or if it is taken too late.
  5. Students should be able to make a list of general safety rules that apply to the operation of any self-propelled equipment.
  6. Provide the listeners with examples of machines that have been modified or have attachments. Ask how the extra weight or modification might change the machine's response to the controls.

  • Organize owners manuals where they are readily available for review. Provide each machine on your farm with a weather-proof container to keep the owners manual with the machine.
  • Talk with farmers that have survived accidents to find out the causes, the warnings that preceded it, how they reacted and what might have been a better response.
  • If appropriate, look into more in-depth tractor safety and equipment safety classes and courses.

Fundamentals of Machine Operation
Deere and Co.
Moline, IL

Agricultural Tractor Safety Manual
Equipment Manufacturers Institute
10 S. Riverside Plaza, Chicago, IL


This training curriculum was produced by the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH).

New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, One Atwell Road, Cooperstown, New York 13326. Phone number: (607) 547-6023 or 1-800-343-7527 in the Northeast

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. More