Farm equipment is often not designed safely, and tractors are especially dangerous. According to the National Safety Council, tractor accidents are the leading cause of injury and death among farmers and farm workers.
Did You Know?
- Farm tractors accounted for the deaths of 2,165 farm between 1992 and 2001.
- The 2010 U.S. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries found that the largest net increase in fatal work injuries involved drivers of tractor trailers or other heavy trucks—a 6% rise from 577 to 610 cases annually.
- The most common type of tractor accident is rollovers—The U.S. Department of Labor (USDL) reports that 44% of farm accidents are due to tractor rollovers.
- The National Agricultural Tractor Safety Initiative reports that tractors cause about 130 deaths annually or half of all farm worker fatalities.
Irresponsible Tractor Manufacturing
Tractor manufacturers do not design tractors safely. And they often fail to warn of the danger of operating them.
For example, newer tractors are required to have rollover protection systems (ROPS), but older models often tip over. Of the 4.8 million tractors currently operated in the U.S., 50% don’t have ROPS or seat belts. (Wearing a seat belt ensures a higher survival rate, but it’s not foolproof.)
That means: If you have a tractor accident, it’s likely you are not at fault. Injuries sustained as a result of working with farm equipment are rarely caused by farm who use them.
Even if you think you might be partially at fault, you may still be eligible for compensation. Again, that’s because you don’t have to misuse a tractor for it to malfunction. Tractor accidents occur because manufacturers’ designs are not safe, and tractor companies neglect to warn you of all the ways you can be injured while using these heavy, complex machines.
Common Tractor Injuries
Along with rollovers, other injuries associated with defective tractor design include:
- Runovers—these cause about 60 fatalities annually.
- Collisions with motor vehicles−these account for about 50 operator deaths and numerous motor-vehicle accidents/deaths annually.
- Entanglement in moving parts (shafts, pulleys, belts, chains, and gears)—these cause about 10 deaths annually.
- Driving in hazardous weather conditions or over uneven terrain.
How to Avoid Tractor Accidents
The National Safety Council publishes information about how to reduce the possibility of tractor accidents.
Some of the Council’s recommendations include the following inspections:
- Are ROPS in place and seat belts used?
- Is a PTO master shield in place?
- Is the operator’s platform clear of debris?
- Is a reflective “Slow Moving Vehicle” emblem posted?
- Are lights and flashers operational?
- Are tires properly inflated?
- Is the hydraulics free from leaks?
- Are brakes locked together?
- Is a 20 lb. “ABC” fire extinguisher in place?
- Is a fully equipped first aid kit on the tractor?
Compensation is Available
No matter how many safety precautions you take, however, you need to remember that tractors are not designed safely, and when you’re injured by a tractor, it is the equipment, not you, that is considered “defective”−a term that applies to a product’s poor design, improper manufacturing, lack of safety warning, or all three.
That means: You are not at fault, and you deserve compensation!
If you are an injured farm worker, if one of your family members has been injured or died driving a tractor, or if you have lost wages due to tractor injury, you may be entitled to compensation−including payments over and above Worker’s Compensation.
Manufacturers who design and distribute unsafe machinery should pay you for the losses you suffer due to using their products. You deserve compensation.
For a free and totally confidential consultation, contact the Farm Injury Resource Center.