Rylan Jester of Henry County put together a poster on tractor safety for his very first year in 4-H that may not have won him a big prize, but it certainly caught the attention of anyone who stopped to look at it. Using small model farm equipment, he illustrated several ways that someone could get hurt or inured on the farm. All involved either tractors or combines; vehicles with engines.
Bill Field, Purdue University Farm Safety Specialist, says that tractor incidents remain the number one cause of farm deaths and injuries. The percentage of fatalities involving tractors on Indiana farms varies, but is usually around or slightly more than 50% of all fatal farm accidents.
Grain bin entrapments get lots of publicity, but far fewer people die in those accidents than on tractors, Field notes. That doesn't mean training in proper techniques to work with grain or in rescue techniques for first responders isn't important. Purdue continues to provide that training through Field and his staff. Gain bin suffocations are preventable with knowledge of the risks you don't need to take.
Most tractor accidents are preventable too if people would use common sense, he notes. Of all the causes of tractor accidents, rollovers are typically the most common. Young Jester illustrated it on his poster with a tractor that has a rollover protective structure vs. one that doesn't have it. If you have a factory cab the ROPS protection should be built into it.
Field has served on ag engineering industry committees to help set the standards for ROPS on tractors over the years. He was a major player in convincing tractor makers to include ROPS on their tractors.
Many of the incidents that involve tractor rollovers today are on older tractors without ROPS, he says. Often, but not always, they are tricycle front-end tractors. The average age of the operator who becomes the victim is usually fairly high.