Recognizing Farm Equipment Hazards

By: Kent McGuire,  OSU Ag Safety and Health Coordinator

Spring planting is in full swing. In many cases there are multiple pieces of equipment working simultaneously throughout the farm. Today’s equipment is powerful, very efficient and versatile in how it can be used. This includes tractors, tillage equipment, planting equipment, and even extremely specialized machinery for fruit and vegetable production. However, all agricultural equipment share many of the same hazards that can seriously injury someone if the hazards are not recognized. Farm equipment hazards can include:

Wrap Points: Any exposed equipment component that rotates at high speed or with a high degree of torque.  Injuries occur because of entanglement with the part. The most common wrap points are associated with drive shafts or power take - off shafts.

Shear / Cut Points: Shear points happen when two edges come together or move passed each other to create a cut. Cut points happen when a single edge moves rapidly and forcefully enough to make a cut or a solid object strikes a single edge. Injuries can range from severe cuts to amputation. Common equipment includes mower blades, disc coulters, cutter bars and parts with sharp edges.

Pinch Points: Any equipment that has two objects that come together with at least one of them moving in a circular motion. The point at which the two objects come together becomes the pinch point. Injuries can include abrasions, cuts, or being pulled further into the part. Most pinch points involve belts and pulleys, chains and sprockets, gear drives, or roller assemblies.

Crush Points: This occurs when two objects come together or a single object moves towards a stationary object creating a blunt impact. Injuries usually involve damage to tissue, bones, or internal organs. Crush points can include being caught under or between moving parts or equipment.

Burn Points: Any area on a piece of equipment that can generate enough heat to cause a burn to the skin if touched. It only takes 5 seconds to create a 3rd degree burn touching something at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  Common burn points include exhaust mufflers, engine or hydraulic fluids, friction of moving parts, and worn out bearing assemblies

Free-Wheeling Parts: Some mechanical systems will take time to come to a complete stop, after the power source has been shut off. Many times these parts are moving silently after the equipment operator has dismounted the equipment. These parts can include rotary mower blades, flywheels, and equipment that must go through a full revolution or cycle to come to a complete stop.

Stored Energy: Any amount of potential energy waiting to be released. Injuries occur when the energy is unintentionally or unknowingly released. This can include pressurized hydraulic systems, electrical circuits, spring tension, and chemical reactions.

Thrown Objects: Occurs when material or objects are discarded from the equipment with great force. Injuries occur when the object strikes the individual. Objects can be throw during mowing processes, from discharge chutes, or tossed from rapidly rotating parts.

By recognizing the hazards that can be present with the farm equipment and respecting the power and speed of the equipment, potential for injuries can be significantly reduced.

For more information about OSU Ag Safety visit or contact Kent McGuire, OSU Agricultural Safety & Health, at or 614-292-0588.