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Farmer died after being struck while seated on the tractor by an unrestrained rectangular haylage bale that fell out of an elevated front-end loader bucket that independently elevated.

Michigan State University
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 02MI029, 2003 May; :1-10
On March 10, 2002, a 52-year-old male farmer who raised buffalo died when he was struck while seated on the tractor by an unsecured 1500-pound haylage bale that fell out of the tractor's elevated front-end loader bucket. He was transporting a plastic-wrapped four-foot by five-foot hay bale to his wife who was breaking open the bales and feeding the buffalo. His route between the hay storage area and his wife was rutted and snow-covered. Metal fence pipes were also in his path. He placed the hay bale in the front-end loader bucket but did not secure it apparently because of the short distance to where his wife was feeding buffalo. He was backing up, looking over his shoulder when the 2-wheel drive tractor's unweighted rear tires became stuck in a rut and the right front tire became lodged on some of the metal pipes. To free the tractor, he rocked the tractor back and forth. While rocking back and forth, and unknown to the victim because he was looking over his shoulder at his wife, the front-end loader arms raised independently. The setscrew in the joystick mechanism that tightens the spring to operate the loader's hydraulics was loose, allowing the loader arms to rise independently. While rocking back and forth, the hay bale fell out of the elevated bucket striking the victim. The bale then rolled off and landed on the ground to the victim's left. Both the tractor seat and steering wheel were damaged and bent from right to left. Emergency response was called while a family member administered CPR. Emergency response arrived and took the victim to a local hospital where he died. Recommendations: 1. When using a tractor loader to move a bale, properly secure the bale with a manufacturer's approved device such as a bale spear, clamp or grapple. 2. Inspect work areas and equipment before performing a task to identify actual and potential hazards and determine adequate controls. 3. Tractor owners should consider using a 4-wheel drive tractor with rollover protection and rear counterweights when using a tractor equipped with a front-end loader. 4. Ensure proper hydraulic maintenance occurs during tractor service and when aftermarket accessories are installed. 5. The joystick manufacturer should consider reevaluating the design or assembly methods of the joystick control valve to ensure that it cannot loosen once adjusted. 6. Although not a factor in this incident, MIFACE recommends that the tractor PTO stub shaft be guarded at all times to prevent entanglement. 7. The front-end loader manufacturer should consider reevaluating the loader model design in terms of number of and material used to construct the loader support system.
Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Region-5; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Work-environment; Work-performance; Occupational-accidents; Farmers; Tractors; Equipment-design; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-workers
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-02MI029; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-521205
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division