An 86-year-old male farmer was killed after being struck by a tree limb. The victim was driving a tractor through a pasture checking on his cattle. As he approached a large tree, the extended front end loader, in full upright position, which was attached to the tractor struck a tree branch. The branch broke off and struck the victim causing massive head injury. He was thrown from the tractor and discovered a few hours later by his grandson. The tractor was equipped with a Roll Over Protective Structure (ROPS) and a non-function seat belt. The tractor did not have a Power Take Off (PTO) shield or Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) placard. In order to prevent future fatalities of this type, the FACE investigator recommends:
- Equipment should be used in such a way to allow clear view of the path of travel
- Equipment operators should be aware of the side effects of medications and take precautionary measures to ensure their personal safety
- Operator should realize that lifting the front end loader too high can change the balance of the equipment and its handling properties as well as result in objects falling toward the tractor
- Safety devices should be well-maintained and used at all times while operating hazardous equipment
Additionally, operators should communicate with their personal physician the nature of their work and ask for guidance/precautions regarding equipment operation.
Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, "86 Year Old Farmer Is Killed after Being Hit by Tree Branch" (1995). Fatality Case Reports--Tractors/Logging. 37.