Tractors - Operation

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What should you do when operating a tractor?

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  • Wear close-fitting clothes that are not frayed. Tuck in shirts, and tie back long hair.
  • Use footwear with slip-resistant soles.
  • Wear a seat belt when the tractor is equipped with ROPS (roll-over protection structure).
  • If there is the risk of falling objects, install a fall-protective structure.
  • Check to see that no one is near the tractor before starting the engine.
  • Operate controls from the tractor seat only.
  • Always keep three points of contact (two hands and one foot) when climbing on and off the tractor.
  • Clean the tractor steps regularly to prevent slips and falls.
  • Use hearing protection unless you are enclosed in a soundproof cab.
Hearing protection
  • Hitch loads to the draw bar only. Set the draw bar on a three-point hitch and no higher than the fixed draw bar. Use a draw bar pin which locks into place and is the right size for the job.
  • Use counterweights (front end or wheel weights) to help keep the tractor stable when necessary.
Use counterweights
  • Engage the clutch slowly at all times.
  • Disengage the power take-off (PTO) and turn off the engine before unclogging, adjusting or servicing equipment.
  • Maintain safe operating speed according to surface conditions.
  • Keep the loader bucket low while transporting loads
  • Take breaks when working long hours. Be aware of fatigue. Never operate machinery when under the influence of alcohol, drugs, etc.

What are some safe driving tips?

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Always read, understand, and follow the owner’s operating manual.

Be properly trained to safely operate a tractor.

Do a circle check before operating a tractor or any vehicle.

Make sure your tractor conforms to the highway regulations when operating on public roadways.

Watch out for:

  • stumps, logs, rocks,
  • holes, ruts, cave-ins, excavations,
  • ditches, embankments, ravines,
  • people, machinery, debris, buildings, and
  • overhead powerlines.

Slow down when:

  • turning,
  • driving near ditches, ravines, buildings, trees, posts, fences, people, or animals
  • working on slopes or rough ground
  • pulling heavy, high, swaying, or unstable loads
  • driving on rough, soft or slick ground
  • plants or darkness restricts visibility.

Engage the parking brake and put into park or neutral. Remove the ignition key before leaving tractor.

What should you avoid doing?

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  • Do not use a tractor unless you are trained and know how to operate it safely.
  • Do not allow another person to ride on a tractor unless the tractor is designed to carry passengers (e.g., it is equipped with instructor seats, roll-over protection structures (ROPS), and safety belts).
  • Do not get on or off a tractor while it is moving.
Do not permit another person to ride on a tractor
  • Do not overload a tractor. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Do not start the engine while standing beside the tractor.
  • Do not drive so quickly that the tractor wheels bounce.
Do not drive so quickly that the tractor wheels bounce
  • Do not move loads that are poorly stacked.
  • Do not drive a tractor with greasy or slippery steering wheel.
  • Do not idle a tractor inside a building.
  • Do not drive a tractor up to anyone standing in front of a fixed object, such as a building, wagon or implement.

  • Fact sheet last revised: 2021-01-25