A 57-year-old farmer died of injuries he sustained when the tractor he was operating overturned while transporting a round hay bale. The victim was a self-employed mechanic and part-time farmer who had been farming the property his entire life. He was an experienced tractor operator who had operated and maintained the tractor involved in the fatal incident for at least 20 years. Prior to the incident, the victim had elevated an estimated 800-pound bale and began to transport it from the storage area to the feeding ring. He traversed a 40 percent grade slope with his left rear wheel on the downhill side. He then elevated the total 1,200-pound load higher to clear the top of the ring, causing the tractor’s center of gravity to shift. The tractor tipped forward, rolling downhill and landing on the victim. It was not equipped with a rollover protective structure or a safety belt. The land owner discovered the worker on the ground. He called his wife, who then called emergency medical services. When EMS and the county sheriff arrived minutes later, they found the victim dead.
- Equip all tractors with a rollover protective structure and safety belt. Either a roll-bar frame or an enclosed roll-protective cab can withstand the dynamic force during a rollover, while a safety belt ensures the driver ?remains within the “zone of protection.”
- Convert tricycle-configured tractors to a wide front-end configuration. Tricycle-configured tractors are inherently unstable, which increases when dealing with elevated front-end loads. In this case, the use of a wide front-end configured tractor may have allowed the center of gravity to remain within the stability baseline, preventing the tractor rollover.
- Prior to their placement, evaluate the location of feeding rings for hazards that may compromise a tractor’s stability during transport. The location of the feeding ring in this incident required the tractor operator to traverse a 40 percent graded slope. Traversing steep slopes, particularly when transporting loads, should be avoided whenever possible.