On June 22, 1999, a 49-year-old male rental property general laborer (victim) died of injuries sustained when the tractor he was driving rolled over while mowing. The victim was using a 26 horsepower, three cylinder diesel, four wheel drive tractor which was owned and usually operated by the property's owner. The tractor was equipped with a front end loader and a rear mounted brush hog. The operator (victim) was inexperienced in tractor operation and set-up. He was instructed by the owner to perform other assigned tasks and wait for his presence and instruction before moving the tractor out of the storage shed, setting it up, and mowing. Usual set-up included installing the tractor's rollover protective structures (ROPS) which had to be taken off in order to store the piece of equipment. The field had been graded two years prior to the incident and had never been mowed. The grading had left a fairly level area adjacent to the access road. Above this level area was a 12 foot wide ridge which ran along the woods line and created a 3 foot ledge leading down to the level area. Just prior to the fatal incident, the victim decided to access, set-up and operate the tractor without the owner being present and before receiving instruction. He began mowing the field at the highest point which was along the woods line upon the ridge. According to the owner, this ridge was not included in his mowing plans, as it was to be cut with a string trimmer. The victim was operating the tractor with its left side parallel to and within 2 feet of the ledge. He had completed 30 feet of mowing when the left front wheel and then the left rear wheel dropped off the edge causing the tractor to rollover pinning him to the ground. The tractor did not have a ROPS due to incomplete set-up. Approximately one hour later, the tractor's owner drove up to the mowing site and spotted the upside down piece of equipment. The victim was lying face up with the upside down tractor across his chest. The owner got back into his car and drove to a nearby towing business and called 911. Two of the towing business employees checked for vital signs. The EMS arrived within minutes. The tractor was removed from the victim and he was pronounced dead. The coroner estimated that the victim had died shortly after tractor impact. The WV FACE investigator concluded that to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, the following guidelines should be followed by tractor owners: 1. Ensure that unauthorized tractor operation is prevented by having exclusive control of the ignition key. Additionally, employees should: 2. Follow the employer's instructions concerning the scheduling and implementation of assigned tasks and pre-task training. 3. Ensure that all tractors equipped with removable or folding (ROPS) and a seat belt only be operated with the system fully installed.
Region-3; 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; Safety-programs; Tractors; Equipment-design; Equipment-operators; Equipment-reliability; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment