NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Massachusetts tractor operator killed while wheel harrowing a tobacco field.

Massachusetts 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 01MA016, 2003 Feb; :1-7
On May 12, 2001, a 64-year-old male, seasonal tractor operator was decapitated while operating a tractor that was pulling a wheel harrow inside a shade tobacco tent. The victim was preparing to turn the tractor around at the edge of a shade tobacco field when his neck came in contact with a wire used to support the netting shading the tobacco plants and decapitated him. After the incident, the tractor continued in the forward direction and circled in the area several times before becoming entangled in the shade netting and wire. A supervisor discovered the victim's body and the entangled tractor. The local police and fire departments, state police, and personnel from the medical examiner's office were notified and responded to the scene within minutes. The medical examiner pronounced the victim dead at the incident site. The Massachusetts FACE Program concluded that to prevent similar occurrences in the future, employers in agricultural operations should: 1. Ensure that modifications to tractors are approved by the manufacturer and do not create additional hazards for the operator and other employees. 2. Select appropriate sized tractors that fit under the shade tents. 3. Conduct routine inspections to ensure that there are no downed or loose wires within the shade tents. 4. Ensure that all tractor operators are trained on the tractors they will use.
Region-1; 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; Equipment-operators; Training; Equipment-design; Tractors
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
FACE-01MA016; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-108704
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Massachusetts Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division