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Farmer fatally injured in tractor posthole auger entanglement.

Iowa Department of Public 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 05IA075, 2007 Mar; :1-5
A 35-year-old, male farmer was fatally injured while operating a tractor PTO (power take-off) powered posthole auger. The incident occurred in central Iowa late in the fall of 2005. The victim was working alone in an alfalfa field near his farm home, digging post holes for a fence line. The incident was discovered early the next morning when a neighbor drove by and noticed the stationary tractor with its engine running and no operator in sight. The victim was found about 30 feet (10 m) from the tractor. The posthole auger was still turning about 2 feet (0.6 m) deep in its hole in the ground. Loose dirt at ground level around the auger had been spread away from where the auger entered the ground. A shovel with a broken handle was found at the site and a loose strand of barbed wire snaked along the ground between the tractor and auger. The victim's shirts were wrapped around the top of the auger. There was no guard in place in this area where the auger connects to the gearbox output shaft. The incident resulted in amputation of the victim's right arm and multiple blunt force wounds. He was dead when neighbors found him. RECOMMENDATIONS based on our investigation are as follows: 1. Tractor operators should disengage drive elements and shutoff the tractor's engine before leaving the operator's station. 2. Operators, and others, should stay clear when the posthole digger is in operation. 3. Posthole auger drive elements should be guarded with all shielding in place and functional. Work areas should be clear of slip, trip, and fall hazards.
Region-7; 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; Work-practices; Tractors; Protective-equipment; Farmers; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-machinery; Agriculture; Machine-guarding; Machine-operation
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-05IA075; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-708674; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008460
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Iowa Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division