Youth in Agriculture » Struck-by

Tractor pulling farm equipment
Case Study Fatality:
​​​​​​A 13-year-old boy died when struck by a runaway farm wagon.

If you are under 16, Child Labor Laws forbid you from handling certain classes and types of chemicals or pesticides; state laws may be even more stringent.

Do You Know... that many fatal accidents on farms occur when someone is struck by farm machinery? For example, one of the main hazards of front-end loaders and skid-steer loaders is being struck and crushed by the bucket, bucket arms, or material falling from the bucket. Crushing injuries or deaths are also caused by getting caught under the loader bucket or between the loader and the tractor frame. Contact with animals can also be very dangerous and is the cause of many injuries.

Employers have the primary responsibility for protecting the safety and health of their workers. Employees are responsible for following the safe work practices of their employers.

Struck-by Machinery

  • Use safe practices when hitching and unhitching wagons. Hitching wagons is often overlooked as a source of injury or death.

    • Do not move a tractor if a worker is between it and the wagon.

    • Back the tractor past the hitch point and ensure that any helpers are at a safe distance, then inch forward from the wagon to align hitch holes.

    • Make sure the wagon is on level ground before unhitching it.

    • Don't pull the hitch pin if there is too much force on it.

    • Chock the wagon's wheels before unhitching.

  • Use caution around dump trucks. Stand far enough away to avoid being crushed if the vehicle overturns or the load dumps all at once. Never stand under a raised dump box even if it has been securely blocked.

  • Start at the top of the face and work down when removing silage from a pile. Never let an overhang develop. Removing silage from the top of the face first and sloping the face slightly toward the pile, reduces the chance of being struck by and crushed by silage.

  • When working with front-end or skid-steer loaders, ensure that the bucket is lowered to the ground, solidly blocked, or supported by the manufacturer's safety stop before servicing, attaching, or removing the loader.

  • Always lower the bucket of a loader to the ground and shut the engine off before dismounting machinery. If the bucket is lowered and the engine is off, there is little chance of being crushed.

Struck-by Livestock

  • Use care and common sense when working with animals. Never try to hurry an angry animal.

  • Be aware that cattle can see nearly 360 degrees without moving their heads, so quick movement behind them may startle them. While cattle do not generally attack you, their size and weight alone can be overwhelming. Leave yourself an "out" when trying to corner or work with cattle.

  • Remember that animals may be more aggressive and see you as a threat if they are protecting their young.

  • Be calm and deliberate when dealing with animals. Speak gently and do not startle them. They are sensitive to sudden or unexpected loud noises.

  • Stay clear of animals that are frightened, hurt, sick, or look suspicious.

  • Be alert for sudden movements such as kicking and other actions of nearby animals.

  • Wear protective footwear and headgear.

  • Check equipment carefully before riding a horse.

Employers have the primary responsibility for protecting the safety and health of their workers. Employees are responsible for following the safe work practices of their employers.

Follow the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) including:

  • Some agricultural jobs are too dangerous for anyone under 16 to perform. No youth under 16 years of age may be employed at any time in any of these Hazardous Occupations in Agriculture (HO/A); including operating or helping to operate, starting, stopping, adjusting, feeding or any other activity involving physical contact with the following machines:

    • HO/A #2, Operating any of the following: corn picker, cotton picker, grain combine, hay mover, forage harvester, hay baler, potato digger, mobile pea viner, feed grinder, crop dryer, forage blower, auger conveyor, power post-hole digger, power post driver, nonwalking type rotary tiller, or the unloading mechanism of a non-gravity-type self-unloading wagon or trailer.

    • HO/A #3, Trencher or earthmoving equipment, fork lift, potato combine, or power-drive circular, band or chain saw.

    • HO/A #4, Working on a farm in a yard, pen or stall occupied by a bull, boar, or stud horse maintained for breeding purposes; or sow with suckling pigs, or cow with newborn calf with umbilical cord present.

    • HO/A #6, Working from a ladder or scaffold at a height of over 20 feet (working includes painting, repairing, or building structures, pruning trees, picking fruit, etc.).

Consider implementing recommended safe work practices, including:

To avoid workers being struck by machinery:

  • Develop a "safety first" attitude. Follow safe work practices all the time and set a good example for others.

  • Ensure that no one rides on farm equipment except those required for its operation, instruction, or diagnostics.

  • Make sure, when possible, that tractors are equipped with a Roll Over Protective Structure (ROPS) cab.

  • Adjust tractor wheels to the widest spacing that can be used for a job. The wider the tread width, the less the chance of a sideways overturn.

  • Inspect all equipment and correct any hazards before operating. Make sure all workers are familiar with equipment and are aware of pinch points, shear points, wrap points, pull-in areas, thrown objects, crush points, stored energy hazards, and freewheeling parts.

  • Educate workers on the hazards of front-end and skid-steer loaders. Keep bucket height as low as possible when moving. The higher the bucket, the higher the center of gravity, which makes an overturn more likely.

  • Do not allow workers to remove any safety features of loaders.

To avoid workers being struck by animals:

  • Entrust livestock handling jobs only to people with adequate strength and experience.

  • Provide training in livestock handling under controlled conditions for youth and other inexperienced workers.

  • Restrain known kickers and biters.

  • Never tie a lead line to your body. You may become entangled in the line.

  • Provide separate facilities for dairy bulls.

  • Always have enough help for the job at hand.

  • Provide protective footwear and headgear to workers.

Additional Information:

  • Safe Grain and Silage Handling. NIOSH, Workplace Safety and Health Publication No. 95-109, (August 1995). This guide discusses grain and silage hazards and potential solutions in harvesting, transportation, storage, conveying, and processing farm activities.
  • Working Safely With Livestock. National Ag Safety Database, (April 2002). This fact sheet discusses ways farmers can increase their safety while working with animals.
  • Safety with Animals. National Ag Safety Database, (April 2002). This page provides safety solutions for preventing animal-related injuries and deaths.