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Land Owner Pinned by Tractor Bucket When Working in Ditch

Michigan Case Report: 12MI059

The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


In summer 2012, a male land owner in his 70s died when his Massey Ferguson Model 65 tractor equipped with a front end loader bucket slid down a drainage ditch bank, pinning him between the bucket and the opposite ditch bank. He was clearing the ditch of weeds and small trees, for both drainage purposes and in preparation of repair to the culvert providing access to a field adjacent to his home that he rented to a farmer. The decedent placed the tractor on the south side of the ditch, near the ditch edge, with the bucket located over the ditch (See Figure 1 and Drawing 1). He dismounted from the tractor, leaving the tractor idling in neutral. He did not apply the parking brake. The decedent entered the ditch to tie a chain around a small tree and tall weeds so he could pull them out using the bucket. He had placed the chain around the tree and attached the chain to the bucket when the tractor slid down the ditch bank. The bucket struck his head and then pinned him across his back against the north wall of the ditch. His spouse saw the tractor position and ran to investigate. She began to call for help as she drew near the incident scene. Neighbors responded, and one of them mounted the tractor and applied the parking brake while another neighbor called for emergency response. Emergency response arrived, lifted the bucket from the decedent, and declared him dead at the scene.

Land Owner Pinned by Tractor Bucket When Working in Ditch [PDF 192 KB]