Understanding the safety implications of buying and using a new or a used tractor is an essential element for anyone working either on a farm of any size, any type of small holding or any type of residential land where a small or compact tractor might be used.

Agriculture generally is reckoned to be one of the most dangerous occupations there is, although the rate of accidents and work-related injuries has declined significantly in recent years. Even so the majority of work-related deaths and injuries in agriculture relate to tractors, particularly to young adults and children.

Part of the reason for this is that farms are a unique environment for a workplace point of view. They are also inevitably domestic residences as well, and the family of whoever owns and runs the farm are likely to be present in a number of situations where there is potential risk of damage or injury to them.

In addition many farms employ seasonal labour, depending upon the type of farming done, and as such may employ people of early or late teen age.

In terms of tractor safety, there are two main safety considerations that should be taken into account that can prevent the majority of tractor accidents.

However specific understanding needs to be given to the specific type of tractor used, the environment within which it is to be used, and the age and maturity of the operator or the driver of the tractor.

The majority of tractor accidents come from what are known as overturns and run overs. Overtones are where the tractor for a number of reasons will tilt on its side to such an angle that it falls over.

This is extremely dangerous and can easily result in death or serious damage to the operator of the tractor. It tends to happen where the land and has a number of ditches, or where there is an incline in the land that gives it a sharp edge.

It can also occur in residential and small holding settings where a garden or lawn tractor is used in reverse, or is used to close to the edge of a piece of land and is easily overturned as such.

Obviously the best prevention is the only ever used the tractor on land that is flat and where there is no incline or edge. Human nature being what it is this does not always happen. Most modern day tractors are fitted with what is known as an ROPS (Roll Over Protective Structure), although many older ones are not.

Some manufacturers such as Kubota fit an ROPS as standard on virtually all of their models including many of their garden and lawn tractors, including a foldable ROPS.

Many older tractors do not have an ROPS fitted, and therefore are much more dangerous as a result. Many modern tractors also have a seatbelt fitted.

In the event that there is an overturn, if the operator or driver of the tractor is wearing a seatbelt and there is an ROPS fitted, then the likelihood of a serious accident can be significantly reduced and the likelihood of a fatality is significantly reduced as well.

The other major cause of the accident on tractors are run overs. This is where the operator or driver of a tractor stops the tractor but does not engage the parking lever sufficiently. This means that the tractor can effectively run loose, and easily run over either the driver of the tractor or anyone else who may be in the vicinity.

This can be extremely dangerous obviously, and can be prevented by the driver of the tractor making sure it is properly parked and switched off before disembarking. One other important safety feature, is to make sure that your tractor is registered with the manufacturer directly, and ideally with a local dealership as well.

This might happen automatically if you buy a tractor from a dealer, but obviously will not if you buy it second-hand or online, and is something you would need to do independently. Kubota have recently issued a safety recall for a fairly large number of zero turn mowers/garden tractors that have a problem with the fuel tank, with potentially serious consequences in terms of safety.

Whilst there has been some publicity about this, Kubota initially contacted all owners of the models affected and advised them of the situation. It is a good example of how being registered directly with the manufacturer means you are advised of any problems or issues concerning any safety areas of the tractor you may have bought.

Equally if you have an old tractor that does not have an ROPS fitted, it is highly advisable that you get one fitted by a local dealership, and a seatbelt as well if applicable.

Author's Bio: 

The author writes about issues relating to agriculture, farming and tractors, with a special focus on manufacturers such as Kubota and in particular compact tractors such as lawn and garden tractors.