Tractor runs over and kills worker

Monday, 17 December, 2018

Tractor runs over and kills worker

A Queensland worker died after he was crushed by the wheels of a tractor he was operating, during an incident on a rural property in November 2018.

According to a Workplace Health and Safety Queensland incident alert, initial findings suggest the man was spraying herbicide on a sugar cane crop and got out of the tractor to re-fill the spray tanks which had been retrofitted underneath the tractor. It appears the tractor rolled forward over him while he was under it refilling the tanks. Investigations are continuing.

The incident alert said tractors are essential for agricultural, greenkeeping, gardening, landscaping and other activities. They are versatile and can have numerous functions, not only on farms, but many other workplaces.

The alert said tractors are generally safe when operated properly, but can be very dangerous if incorrectly used. They have been involved in more deaths and serious injuries than any other piece of rural machinery. Run-overs are primarily linked to:

  • starting a tractor from the ground
  • carrying passengers (usually children)
  • attempting to get on or off a moving tractor.

According to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, PCBUs must consider each type of hazard and its associated risk. Control measures must be chosen, implemented and regularly reviewed to ensure the safety of all tractor operators and training must be provided. Risk control measures include:

  • Never climb on or off a tractor that is moving. Do not get out while the engine is running unless the transmission is in the neutral or park position and the handbrake is engaged.
  • Reduce speed before turning or applying turning brakes.
  • Descend slopes cautiously with the tractor in low gear. Extra care needs to be taken if towing trailers or implements down slopes, as often they will not have their own brakes.
  • If an attachment becomes blocked, the tractor should be stopped, the drive to the attachment disconnected and the moving parts of the implement stopped before the obstruction is cleared.
  • Seek expert technical advice before fixing counterweights or wheel weights (front or rear) to increase tractor stability.
  • Be extra cautious when operating a tractor or any attached equipment while children or animals are nearby.

Image credit: © Kostic

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