Agricultural Engineering Safety Lesson Plan: Tractor Operator Safety


To identify precautions and safety recommendations that should be observed by tractor operators.


Have any of you ever received an award for being a safe tractor operator? No? Sure you have! Haven't you enjoyed many hours of rewarding, productive work? You haven't had the pain and expense associated with a serious injury and you haven't become a statistic. In order for you to reap these
rewards, you must be aware of hazards and always alert to situations that are potentially dangerous.


  1. Know the accepted hand signals. Engine noise prevents effective and communication and misunderstandings may occur.
  2. Preoperational checks are important to your safety.
    1. Know the operator's manual.
    2. If tractor is stored inside, open door before starting so poisonous exhaust fumes will be ventilated.
    3. Clean tractor of trash, mud, oil, grease and if equipped with a cab, clean the glass.
    4. Check time inflation pressure.
    5. Be sure all control lights and gauges are working.
    6. Make sure all shields and covers are in place.
    7. Use handrails to mount and dismount.
    8. Adjust seat to the comfortable position.
    9. Use caution when fueling. Stop engine and allow it to cool before refueling. Never smoke nor have an open flame near the fuel. Never overfill and if fuel is spilled, clean it up immediately. be sure to use the correct fuel. Ground the fuel funnel or nozzle against the filler neck to prevent sparks. Replace fuel cap.
  3. Start the tractor with care. Be sure everyone is clear of the machine and that you are the only one on the tractor.
    1. Hydraulic controls should be in neutral.
    2. Be sure PTO is disengaged.
    3. Apply the brakes.
    4. Place gearshift in neutral or park.
    5. Depress the clutch pedal.
    6. Use care when using diesel starting fluid.
    7. If using jumper cables, avoid sparks around the battery as hydrogen gas is explosive.
  4. Stopping the tractor
    1. Apply both brakes evenly.
    2. Disengage the PTO.
    3. Lower all hydraulically controlled equipment to the ground.
    4. Put gearshift in neutral or park and set brakes.
    5. Turn ignition key off and remove to prevent accidental starting.
  5. Observe safe operating conditions and recommendations.
    1. Always keep alert.
    2. Only qualified people should operate the tractor.
    3. Wear safety glasses and snug fitting clothing.
    4. Remember, the tractor is designed for only one person, the operator.
    5. adjust operating procedure to any adverse condition such as snow, mud, ice fences, ditches or other obstacles.
    6. Avoid sharp turns at high speeds or when on hillsides.
    7. Use adequate ballast.
    8. Always sit down when on rough terrain.
    9. If tractor is equipped with a rollover protective structure (ROPS), the seat belt should be fastened.
    10. Hitch loads to the drawbar only to avoid turning over backwards.
    11. Always lower implements to the ground when not in use.
    12. Keep all shields in place.
  6. Observe field repair and maintenance recommendations
    1. Always lower equipment to the ground, disengage the PTO and shut off engine.
    2. Wear safety glance.
    3. Replace all safety shield often servicing.
    4. Use safety supports when working underneath hydraulically supported equipment.
    5. When adjusting when spacing, be sure tractor is securely blocked.
    6. Avoid sparks or open flames when working with the battery.
    7. Use recommended precautions when refueling.
    8. Allow coolant system to cool and then remove radiator cap slowly. Be sure all pressure is relieved before removing cap.
    9. Don't touch the exhaust system until it cools.
    10. Be careful around hydraulic leaks as fluid under pressure can penetrate your skin. Relieve, system pressure before disconnecting lines.
    11. Always carry a fire extinguisher on the tractor.
  7. Always observe transport recommendations when operating on public roads.
    1. Consult the operators manual for recommendations.
    2. Check condition of tractor and equipment before transporting.
    3. Observe all recommended safety practices when on the highway such as speed, braking, turning, hitching and prevention of upsets.
    4. Always stay alert.
    5. Wait for traffic to clear before turning onto a public road.
    6. Be aware of blind intersections.
    7. Travel on the shoulder of a highway in heavy traffic.
    8. Keep the approaching traffic lane clear.
    9. Don't "wave" traffic around you as traffic conditions may change so quickly that everyone would be in trouble.
    10. Use turn signals.
    11. Obey all traffic signs.
    12. When transporting by truck or trailer, secure the load tightly and follow regulations.

Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service, Manhattan, Kansas.

The KSU Cooperative Extension Service provides practical, research-based information and educational programs to address critical issues facing individuals, families, farms, businesses and communities.

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