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Tractors - Start up

What are some safety tips to know when starting up a tractor?

  • Read and follow the manufacturer's operating manual for safely operating and maintaining the tractor.
  • Walk around the tractor to check for obstructions or people.
Tractor circle check
  • Clear controls, pedals and steps of mud, grease and other debris.
  • If the tractor has dual brake pedals, check that dual brake pedals are locked together and adjusted to engage at the same time, unless you will be making turns that require independent use of brakes.
  • Check tires for proper inflation, wear or damage. Inflate tires or replace worn or damaged tires.
  • Check fluid levels, including fuel, coolant, engine oil and hydraulic system. Add fluids, as needed.
  • Ensure that all guards and components are present and securely in place.
  • Inspect the Power Take Off (PTO) shaft for proper shielding and guarding (rotate the shield and make sure it moves freely).
  • Set the wheels as wide as practical for maximum stability.
  • Provide ample ventilation if starting up in the garage.
  • Check hitch connections, including locking devices, for security and damage.
  • Use front or rear counterweights to balance tractors that have mounted equipment.
  • Make sure all shields are in place.
  • Check all lighting equipment and Slow Moving Vehicle signs.
Use front or rear counterweights to balance tractors that have mounted equipment
  • Keep a selection of shear pins, bolts and cotter pins in a container which is solidly attached to the tractor.
Keep a selection of shear pins, bolts and cotter pins in a container which is solidly attached to the tractor
  • Remove all tools and accessories which may restrict operation of controls.
  • Face the tractor and use handgrips and footholds to mount and dismount.

What should you check before start-up?


Fire extinguisher - missing, discharged, or compacted from vibration?

Bolts, nuts, guards, chains, or hydraulic hose reels - missing, loose or damaged?

Chain Anchor Pins - worn, loose or bent?

Fluid Leaks - damp spots or drips?

Battery - exposed wires in cables, low electrolyte levels in cells and secure mounting?

Hydraulic Lines - loose, worn or rubbing?

First Aid Kit - fully stocked?

Safety belt and roll-over protection structure (ROPS) - worn or damaged?

Have parts and equipment replaced, repaired, or put in good operating condition, as needed.

What should you do before operating the tractor?

  • Adjust seat and controls.
  • Fasten seat belt if equipped with roll-over protection structure (ROPS).

Check for correct operation of:

Parking Brake - holds against slight acceleration.

Foot Brake - holds, stops vehicle smoothly.

Clutch and Gearshift - shifts smoothly without jumping or jerking.

Steering - moves smoothly.

Lights - headlights, warning lights, and turn signals operational.

Dash Control Panel - all lights and gauges operational.

All Moving Parts - no strange noises.

Horn - operational.

Have parts and equipment serviced and put in good operating condition, as needed.

Document last updated on April 4, 2018

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Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.