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Volunteer Mowing Grass Pinned by Overturned Tractor, Michigan

Michigan Case Report: 10MI067
Report Date: 10/7/2011


In the Summer of 2010, a male volunteer in his 70s was killed while mowing grass for a youth organization’s camp using a tricycle-type Allis Chalmers Model L59AC farm tractor, retrofitted with an after-market, home-installed underbelly power rotary mower attachment. The tractor overturned to the side on an approximately 30-degree hill and pinned him beneath it. The tractor was not equipped with a rollover protection structure (ROPS) and seat belt. The decedent had mowed the property for over 30 years. The following scenario has been developed since his death was not witnessed. The decedent arrived at the camp and drove the tractor to the top of the hill behind the building. Starting from the tip of the hill, he drove the tractor downhill between the two trees and then turned north toward the bottom stairs leading to the building. He then ascended the 30-degree hill and as he was turning the tractor southbound at the top of the hill, the outside wheel lost its traction and the tractor overturned to the side. His tractor, according to his family members was in first gear. His tractor speed was unknown. A neighbor found him pinned under the overturned tractor’s seat. The neighbor ran to the nearest residence where emergency response was called. The homeowner and neighbor ran back to the incident scene and attempted to render aid. The fire department arrived, removed the tractor from the decedent, and performed resuscitative measures. He was pronounced dead at the scene.


  • When cutting lawn grass on a slope, use a rollover protective structure (ROPS) equipped riding mower or agricultural tractor.
  • Vintage tractor owners should determine if their vintage tractors can be retrofitted with an approved ROPS and seat belt and do so if a ROPS is available.
  • Tractor owners, and especially vintage tractor owners, need to be sure that the modification of their tractor with non-original manufacturer’s attachments does not increase injury risk to the operator.
  • Service organizations should develop a comprehensive safety and health program or safety management system that addresses management leadership and worker/volunteer involvement. As part of the safety and health program, the organization should conduct a hazard assessment of the workplace and volunteers/employee training.
  • Develop and post Rules of Mowing on the organization’s grounds. The Rules should include two specific increased hazard situations: 1. Mowing on slopes and hills and 2. Mowing near the edge of lakes, ponds and dry gullies.
  • Convert tricycle-configured tractors to a wide front-end configuration.
  • Ensure any implement of husbandry, such as a tractor, when used on a public roadway has a slow moving vehicle sign.

Volunteer Mowing Grass Pinned by Overturned Tractor, Michigan [PDF 227 KB]