UNL Extension Offers National Safe Tractor and Machinery Classes

UNL Extension Offers National Safe Tractor and Machinery Classes

May 2, 2008 

Overturned ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) are the leading cause of Nebraska ag fatalities, moving ahead of tractor overturns.

In an effort to reduce the number of agricultural deaths and injuries, UNL Extension will offer National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program (NSTMOP) safety trainings in May and June at five Panhandle locations:

  • May 28-29 at the Farm and Ranch Museum (FARM) in Gering
  • May 30-31 at Banner County School in Harrisburg
  • June 3-4 at 21st Century Equipment at Sidney
  • June 10-11 at 21st Century Equipment at Alliance
  • June 12-13 at 21st Century Equipment at Bridgeport

The classes wil begin at 8 a.m. and end by 5 p.m. Information and pre-registration are available at Extension offices in Alliance (308-762-5616), Scottsbluff (308-632-1480), Bridgeport (308-262-1022), Sidney (308-254-4455), Rushville (308-327-2312) or Chadron (308-432-3373). There is a $35 fee for materials, registration and the first day meal. Pre-registration is preferred to help in planning.

The safety training is for 14- to 15-year-olds who want to work on farms other than their parents', or who just wish to have the safety training.

Nebraska fatalities have been tracked since 1969. There have been 1,229 fatalities through March of this year - an average of almost 32 per year, many of them children. Last year 19 fatalities were recorded. Overturns are still the major cause of death, with all-terrain vehicles replacing tractors as the main cause. Five of the 19 fatalities in 2007 occurred while on an ATV. ATV overturn safety will be covered in the training.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was amended in 1968 to include the Hazardous Occupation Order in Agriculture (HOOA). The order identified many agricultural tasks as hazardous for youth. Employment of youth under 16 to perform these tasks is illegal except for those working on their parents' or guardians' farm and/or 14- to 15-year-olds who have completed exemption training. Producers who violate this law can be fined up to $10,000 the first time. A second offense can have the fine plus imprisonment up to six months.

The National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program (NSTMOP) was developed to offer this exemption training. The training completion permits 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor after 10 hours of training, and to do field work with mechanized equipment after 20 hours.

Course completion also fulfills the driving and testing requirement to operate machinery on public roads. This also means that youth younger than age 14 cannot be hired to operate tractors or machinery.

The first day will include intensive classroom instruction with hands-on demonstrations, concluding with a written test that must be completed satisfactorily before the student may od the driving tests the next day. The training sessions will include volunteers and equipment from local machinery dealers. Homework will be assigned to turn in the next day.

The second day will be for testing, driving and operating machinery, so participants should bring a sack lunch and dress for safety. Students will have to demonstrate competence in hooking up and then driving the tractor and trailer through a standardized course. Competence will also have to be exhibited in hooking up PTO and hydraulic systems.

The statistics say nothing of the number of injuries. The exemption class goal is to help students recognize and assess risk while operating and being responsible for all aspects of farm employment. ATV and tractor safety along with understanding stability will be emphasized for example. Respect for the job and the tools involved is the goal.

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