CFAES Give Today

Ohio State University Extension


Safe Use of Tractors and Self-Propelled Farm Equipment

Agricultural Tailgate Safety Training for Operators and Supervisors
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Agricultural Safety and Health Program

Objective: To be able to safely operate tractors and other self-propelled farm equipment.

Trainer’s Note

Summarize and present the information below. Let each worker practice the safety techniques on the equipment. Provide feedback to ensure that the worker clearly understands the safe operation of each piece of equipment. Let an experienced worker be the trainer. DURING TRAINING it is acceptable for the trainer to ride on the tractor with the trainee. Review the true or false quiz.


Read and follow the equipment operations and safety manuals. Keep safety signs in good repair and replace them as needed. When replacing a part, be sure to transfer the safety equipment to the new part. Replacement safety signs are available from the dealer.

Knowing how to use and operate all controls on each piece of machinery is the first step towards hazard free operation. Keep the machines in proper working condition. Do not modify equipment. Unauthorized modifications impair the function and safety, and it affects machine life.

Tractors are large, heavy, and powerful machines which require careful attention to operate and service. New tractors are equipped with safety devices to provide a reasonable amount of protection. Practice good safety habits and be aware of hazardous situations.

Safe Operation of Farm Equipment

  • Safe operation depends on alert, efficient handling; most incidents occur when the operator is tired or not alert.
  • Limit use of equipment to those qualified.
  • Wear safety glasses to prevent eye damage due to flying debris. Wear snug-fitting clothing to decrease the chance of catching something on a moving part.
  • Never ride double on farm equipment.
  • Keep children away from equipment at all times.
  • Prior to working in a field, check the field for debris, obstacles, ditches, and holes that could cause the tractor to overturn.
  • Never start and run an engine indoors without proper ventilation.
  • Adjust operating procedures to environmental conditions. Control is more difficult in mud, snow, or ice.
  • For protection from an overturn, the tractor should be equipped with a rollover protective structure (ROPS). Fasten the seat belt only if there is a ROPS. (Refer to ROPS module).
  • A first-aid kit should be on or near all major equipment (Refer to First-aid Kit module).

When operating machines with mounted equipment, use adequate ballast for stability. Hitching loads to the draw bar prevents turning over backwards. Back out of deep ditches, up slopes and out of mud holes, to avoid overturning. Slow down and begin turning the wheels before applying the brake to assist in turning. This helps avoid overturns, skidding, and bouncing. Sitting down when traveling over rough terrain lessens the chance that the driver could be thrown from the implement.

Review the Following Points

  • Stay alert.
  • No riders (except during training session).
  • First aid should be readily available
  • Follow recommended procedures in different terrains and weather conditions.
  • Read and follow operator’s manual and safety precautions.

About These Modules

The Ag Tailgate Training Series was developed by members of the Agricultural Safety and Health Program in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Revised by Dee Jepsen, State Agricultural Safety Leader, with editing assistance by Lisa Pfeifer and Cody McClain.

True or False Answer Key

  1. T
  2. F
  3. T
  4. T
  5. T

Quiz: Safe Use of Tractors and Self-Propelled Farm Equipment



True or False?    

1. Always read the operator’s manual before working with any piece of farm equipment. T F
2. If driving a piece of self-propelled farm equipment, wear the seat belt even if there is no Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS). T F
3. The tractor is designed for only one person—the driver. T F
4. Always check the field for ditches, fences, or other obstacles. T F
5. Let only qualified people operate the tractor or self-propelled equipment. T F








Originally posted Sep 17, 2019.