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John Deere Maintenance Monday: Avoiding tractor fatigue

Stay safe by taking frequent breaks

Radio interview source: Dennis Murphy, Extension Safety Specialist, Penn State University

Listen here to the radio story (mp3) or read below

In this edition of Maintenance Monday, we're answering a question from Blake in Alabama. He's putting in long hours on the tractor trying to get a food plot established. His wife says he needs to slow down or he'll get too tired and make mistakes. Is it necessary to take a break?

Dennis Murphy is an extension safety specialist at Penn State University. He says there are many ways that you can become fatigued without even realizing it. "Often times it's the constant bouncing, if your tractor does not have good shock absorbing in the seat. There's that vibration, you're going to become tired," Murphy says. "You may have a newer tractor that the ride is very nice, but you have a lot of instrumentation that you're trying to track. That certainly can be weary. If you don't have a cab and you are in the dust, and have the sun on you, that's just going to simply wear you out quicker."
 
Mistakes happen more often when you are tired. Your reaction time becomes slower, your concentration isn't as sharp, and you might even fall asleep.
 
Murphy knows the drive of a producer to get things done, but he says it's critical that you take regular breaks even if you feel like you don't need them. This prevents you from becoming too tired. "It varies depending on how stressful the situation is that  you're in, but you need to get off the tractor at least every couple of hours for 10-or-15 minutes and just get away from the vibration, get away from the noise. Just take 5-or-10-minutes or even 15-minutes. That would help you survive that day a lot better."
 
During those breaks, eat a snack and stay hydrated. Do some stretching or take a short walk. Even just watching wildlife will take your mind off of the task-at-hand for awhile. Be sure to care for yourself when you're not in the tractor seat. Eat regular meals and get plenty of sleep. 

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