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Farm youth dies after being crushed by a "run away" chopper wagon.

Minnesota Department of Health
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 94MN030, 1994 Sep; :1-3
A 13-year-old male (victim) died from injuries sustained when he was either struck by a "run away" chopper wagon or crushed between the wagon and a farm building. Several minutes before being injured, he hooked the empty chopper wagon to a forage chopper equipped with a quick latch/quick release hitch. The chopper was backed to the chopper wagon by the operator of a farm tractor. After he hooked the wagon to the chopper, the victim moved away from the machinery. The tractor operator drove forward, turning the tractor, chopper, and chopper wagon to the left. A rope attached to the tractor cab extended from the cab to a spring-loaded release lever on the chopper hitch. The rope tightened, as the tractor turned, because it was caught on a bolt head in the upper right corner of the tractor's hydraulic lift. When it tightened, the quick release hitch was activated, unhooking the chopper wagon. The chopper wagon was not equipped with any type of braking system and began rolling forward. The tractor operator realized the wagon became unhooked and stopped the forward motion of the tractor. The wagon rolled forward and came to a stop when it struck the chopper discharge chute. The operator pulled the tractor and chopper forward to rehook the chopper wagon. Since the wagon was on an incline and the operator was turning the tractor and chopper in a semi-circular path, the wagon began rolling and cleared the chopper discharge chute. The victim turned and saw the "run away" chopper wagon rolling toward a two-stall garage. He ran in front of the wagon and attempted to pick up the hitch to steer the wagon away from the garage. He may have slipped or stumbled when he attempted to pick up the wagon hitch. He sustained severe chest injuries when he was either struck by the left front corner of the "run away" chopper wagon and thrown against the wall of the two-stall garage, or he was crushed between the garage and the left front corner of the chopper wagon. MN FACE investigators concluded that, in order to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, the following guidelines should be followed: 1. farm operators should not attach quick release hitch ropes to a fixed point on tractors or tractor cabs; 2. farm equipment manufacturers should design and develop passive brake systems for all pull-type equipment; and 3. farm workers and farm family members should be trained to stay clear of and move away from all "run away" tractors, vehicles, and machinery.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Protective-equipment; Farmers; Tractors; Training; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-workers
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
FACE-94MN030; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-507283
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Minnesota Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division