If you live in Lynden, Washington State, you understand the importance of keeping the agricultural sector viable. It is, in fact, one of the state’s largest employers. This sector employs more than 76,270 individuals. They work as
- Crop planters
- Farm workers – the major category of those employed in this sector
- General laborers
- Greenhouse workers
- Nursery employees
- Ranch workers
While some employees will perform their given tasks by hand, the majority of them will do so using farm equipment. In Washington, a tractor is the most common piece of machinery they will ever drive.
The Problem with Tractors
Agriculture has one of the highest fatality rates of all occupations in the United States. In total, tractor-related fatalities number about 250 a year. They include overturns (rollovers) and run overs. Among the major causes of death and injuries on farms, involving a tractor is the farm-tractor rollover. Across the America, this type of farm accident accounts for approximately 130 work-related deaths annually – approximately half of the entire amount of tractor-related deaths.
In Washington State, 2010 saw the death of 7 employees in 2010 from tractors. Of this number, 5 were killed when the tractor rolled over. Such results are no surprise. When a Washington tractor rolls over, it tends to produce substantial traumatic injuries to various physical parts of the anatomy.
Addressing the Problem in Washington Tractor Operators Face
The best way to prevent tractor problems such as rollovers is through education. Employers need to put their employees through some form of training before they drive a tractor. Before and during use implement the following:
- Inspect all equipment before using
- Remove defective equipment from service
- Install a Rollover Protection System (ROPS) on all tractors – while the ones manufactured since 1985 have this feature, older models require retrofitting
- Make certain al tractors have seat belts and that employees use them
- Only start the tractor after sitting down
- Avoid operating close to embankments, ditches and holes
- Do not forget to reduce speed when turning as well as when driving across slopes or on rough and muddy or slick terrain
- If the operator does not require an instructor or help operating the machine, there should not be a passenger on the tractor
- Hitch attachments and other items only to the recommended hitch points
- Always drive at the appropriate speed and with care when the weather and ground conditions alter
- Be sure to wear the proper clothing for the job
Remember, when in Washington, a tractor overturns in places such as Lynden, the only thing that may prevent a fatality is the wearing of a seatbelt and/or the protection provided by ROPS devices. While the cost may seem prohibitive, how much value do you place on a human life, including your own?