Tractor safety precautions
There are things you can do to stay safe while using a tractor. Read about them here.
What safety precautions can I take?
Tractors are designed and built with safety in mind, but there are steps you should take to ensure they are operated safely. This includes using the tractor according to its capabilities and for tasks it was designed to perform.
General safety precautions
Before you drive the tractor for the first time, read the manufacturer’s operating instructions and complete the necessary specialist training. It if it’s been a while since you’ve driven the tractor, refresh your knowledge.
- ensure a rollover protective structure (ROPS) is fitted in accordance with s. 216 Roll-over protection on tractors of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and in compliance with the design and testing requirements in AS1636.1-1996 Tractors – Roll-over protective structures – Criteria and tests or an equivalent standard
- wear comfortable, well-fitting clothing and boots
- wear hearing protection on tractors without cabins
- wear a seat belt if one is fitted
- keep children away from tractors and machinery
- keep all guards in place, including power take off and master shield guards
- do not carry passengers unless there is a designated seat and seat belt within the ROPS.
Safe starting and stopping
Once you’re in the driving position and before you start the tractor, adjust the seat so that all controls can be operated comfortably and safely.
- start the tractor from the driving position and not from the ground
- do not step down from a moving tractor
- ensure the park brake is on and operating effectively before exiting
- do not park a tractor on a steep slope
- remove the starting key when the tractor is not in use.
While tractors are designed to operate in a range of different settings and on varied terrain, the unexpected can happen. To ensure the continued safe operation of your tractor, drive at speeds slow enough to retain control in any circumstance.
Other things you can do to stay safe include:
- reversing out when stuck in soft ground and getting help if unsuccessful
- watching for ditches, embankments, and depressions—crumbling and slippery banks can cause rollovers
- reducing your speed before turning or applying brakes
- reversing up steep slopes rather than driving forward (ensuring no trailing implements are attached)
- using as wide a wheel track as possible when working on hillsides and sloping ground
- descending slopes cautiously, keeping the tractor in low gear and allowing the motor compression to act as a brake
- avoid floodwater
- following the manufacturer's instructions for adding ballast to improve tractor stability.
Always fit attachments to your tractor according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- when attaching equipment, only use the mounting points or the draw bar provided by the manufacturer, do not use improvised methods
- do not alter, modify, or raise the height of the draw bar outside of adjustments made by the manufacturer
- never hitch above the centreline of the rear axle, around the axle housing, or to the top link pin
- when a power implement is attached, ensure all guards are in place before operating
- do not attempt to adjust or work on implements while they are in motion
- do not use or attach implements unless the power shaft or power take-off shaft is guarded.
Service your tractor regularly to ensure its reliable and safe operation. This includes checking the soundness of any rollover protective structure (ROPS).
- stop the engine before servicing or greasing
- do not remove or replace belts while the pulleys are under power
- keep steps and working platforms free of grease and oil to avoid slips and falls
- change wheels on flat surfaces only – before removing any wheel check the other wheels, avoid improvised lifting arrangements, use a wide-based jack of adequate lifting capacity, and when the tractor is jacked up block it up evenly for additional support
- ensure all the air pressure has been released before removing a tyre from the rim – use correct procedures and inflate tyres in a cage (see Rim wheels – single-piece and multi-piece for further information).
Protecting your back
How you sit and move can impact your general health and wellbeing, and particularly your back.
Take care of your back by:
- adjusting the seat to suit your body
- when buying your next tractor, considering the type of seat that’s best for you
- choosing a tractor seat that has vibration absorbing suspension, as prolonged exposure to vibration may cause back damage
- never jumping down from the tractor
- wearing footwear that provides a firm grip when climbing up into or down from the tractor, and when operating foot pedals.