Farm Worker Died When Unsupported Combine Head Fell Onto Him During Repair Activities in a Bean Field
Michigan Case Report: 14MI118
Release Date: April 25, 2018
In fall 2014, a male farm worker in his 30s died when the unsupported Case International 1680 combine soybean head lowered onto his side during repair activities in a soybean field. The decedent was working alone in the field harvesting soybeans. Although the incident was unwitnessed, it was hypothesized that the sensing mechanism, which permitted the hydraulically operated head to float over the ground became “stuck” in a raised position. The decedent exited the combine and left the combine running. He did not take the combine head out of “automatic” control. He went under the raised combine head with a crescent wrench without providing secondary support (header safety stop) to prevent the head from lowering when repairs were completed. Based on the above hypothesis, the decedent could have been: 1) attempting to make an adjustment directly to the combine head to lower it from the raised position or 2) was striking the floating sensing “rod” which was stuck in the raised position to free the head. When the combine head released from its raised position, it fell onto the decedent, pinning him on his side against the dirt. His coworkers went to look for him when he did not answer his cell phone. A coworker found him, raised the combine head, and backed the combine approximately 15 feet away from him. Combine hydraulic fluid was not observed on the ground, indicating that there was not a leak from the hydraulic lines. He was declared dead at the scene.