Farm Equipment Hazards

Farm and ranch workers must be able to identify dangers associated with agricultural machines and equipment. They must also know and understand how to take safety precautions and follow procedures when using farm machinery and equipment.

Stationary equipment is equipment that remains in a fixed location. This equipment includes augers, elevators, silo unloaders, and other types of material handling equipment.

Agricultural equipment refers to tractors and other mobile machinery.


Machines have contributed to increased productivity on farms and ranches. However, the serious and sometimes fatal injuries that can occur while using them often offset the benefits of modern technology. Farm machinery entanglement accounts for a significant portion of all farm work-related injuries. Most amputations and mangling injuries are a result of entanglements. Operator error is a common factor in nearly all farm machinery related accidents.

OSHA Requirements

OSHA requires that machine operators receive training at the time of initial job assignment and receive annual refresher training in the safe operation and servicing of agricultural equipment. The OSHA standards for agriculture (29 CFR 1928.57 and sections of 29 CFR 1910) specify that training of farm workers cover the following points:

  • Keep guards and shields in place whenever the machine is in operation
  • Properly reinstall guards that they have removed for equipment servicing and repair
  • Shut off power and wait until all movement has stopped before servicing, cleaning or unclogging any equipment, except when the manufacturer’s specifications require otherwise
  • Lockout main switches on electrically operated equipment prior to service, maintenance or repair
  • Review the manufacturer’s servicing procedures and manuals prior to repairs
  • Refuse riders on agricultural equipment
  • Make sure everyone is clear of machinery before starting the engine, engaging power, or setting the machine into operation.

Machine Guarding

Manufacturers generally employ two types of guarding of moving parts of machines:

  1. Guarding by location–the equipment is designed so that moving parts pose no danger of entanglement; and
  2. Guarding with hardware–machines must have shields or guards to prevent entanglement.

Safety Precautions

The power takeoff (PTO) shaft at the rear of the tractor is a danger area. An unguarded PTO shaft can cause serious accidents that result in severe injury, mutilation, and/or amputation. Workers should never step over an unguarded PTO shaft or use the PTO shield as a step. The tractor’s master shield should be in place whenever the PTO shaft is in operation.

If shields and guards are damaged, you must take them out of service and repair or replace them before putting the machine back into operation. The operator is safest when machines have all their guards, in good repair and properly serviced.

Observe all warning signs and follow the instructions.

When performing any maintenance work on the equipment, you should follow the procedures found in the owner’s manual. The manufacturer provides these procedures to protect you. They are the safest, most effective and efficient way to work.

Before servicing or repairing stationary equipment, you should lock out all power sources by:

  • Unplugging electric cords
  • Disconnecting the battery
  • Pulling the circuit breaker and/or disconnecting the fuel line.

Take all the steps necessary to prevent the accidental start-up of equipment while you are servicing, repairing, or adjusting it.

All equipment with moving parts must have proper guarding. For example, an exposed auger flight must have a guard with either a grated or a solid baffled cover. A grated guard opening should be no larger than 43.4”, and the area of each opening no more than 10 square inches.

By following safe operating procedures, farm and ranch personnel will find themselves better protected while continuing the trend to increased productivity and a safer working environment.

Meadowbrook Insurance Group, Inc. and First Pioneer Insurance Agency, Inc. do not assume liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information contained within these safety resources. The resources are intended to be advisory and informational only. Use of the resources is intended for customers of First Pioneer Insurance and is subject to the terms of use with Meadowbrook Insurance.