During the spring of 2005, a 45-year-old farmer was killed while feeding cattle on his farm. The man was driving a tractor equipped with a front-end loader that had a bucket attached to its lift arms. He was towing a single-axle feed cart behind the tractor and had finished filling several feeders in the cattle yard. On his way out of the cattle yard, he steered his tractor uphill on the incline back toward the gate. It was slippery due to recent rains. The tractor was losing traction. The victim moved from the operator station to stand on the hitch and raised the loader, presumably for added traction. Moving from the tractor seat to the drawbar of the moving tractor was something others had seen the man do before. Investigation by law enforcement personnel at the scene found that the bucket attachment was not pinned to the loader's frame at the front of the lift arms. While moving uphill with the loader raised high, the bucket came free from its unsecured attachment. It fell to the rear, toward the operator's station, striking the operator on the head and chest. The tractor continued forward, struck a manure spreader, went through one fence and came to a stop against another fence. Its wheels continued to spin for several hours before the incident was discovered by the victim's wife. RECOMMENDATIONS: 1. Tractors with a loader should be operated with the loader close to the ground as much as possible and have sufficient counterweight on the rear wheels, axle, or hitch for stability and traction. 2. Tractor operators should ensure that attachment locking devices are present, not worn excessively or damaged, function properly, and securely hold attachments in place during use. 3. The loader should be lowered to the ground before exiting the operator station of the tractor and neither the loader nor the tractor should be operated from anywhere other than the operator station. 4. Farm operators should construct feeding areas and select equipment so livestock feeding can be done safely in all conditions.
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