May 27, 2005
Young Tractor Operators Need Training
Farmers occasionally need another tractor operator in busy seasons, such as spring planting.
Those farmers may consider hiring a teenager, perhaps from a neighboring farm. Teens often are looking for a chance to earn money, and they view driving a tractor as a good opportunity.
“But there are risks in hiring a young tractor driver,” says George Maher, North Dakota State University Extension Service agricultural safety specialist. “What do you really know about this young person’s experience?”
Maher says farmers should do a few things before they hire that youngster, such as ask previous employers about the young driver, learn whether the youngster is skilled in operating the types of tractors and machinery the farmer uses, and determine if the youth has passed a tractor safety training and certification course.
Youngsters ages 14 to 16 must pass a U.S. Department of Labor-approved course in tractor operation or tractor and machinery operation to drive a tractor with more than 20 horsepower and/or operate farm machinery that the Labor Department defines as hazardous.
A trained vocational agriculture teacher and Extension Service educator or specialist can teach these courses.
Youths who take the courses are not trained to operate every tractor made; however, they learn the general rules of operating tractors and/or farm machinery safely.
“The emphasis of the training is on the safe operation of tractors and farm machinery,” Maher says. “A youngster still is going to need the vital instruction from the hiring farmer on the proper operation of the particular tractors and machinery.”
Tractor and machinery operation safety schools are offered in North Dakota every year during June. Five schools will be held this year. They are scheduled for:
Contact your county Extension Service office for more information on the schools and to register for a course.