Safe implement hitching
Hitching implements to tractors can be a high-risk activity, especially if another person is helping you.
Dennis Murphy is a safety specialist at Penn State University. He says accidents often happen when one person is on the tractor seat and another is helping to line up the hitch, so both need to be careful.
"The person on the ground should make sure they stay outside of the tractor wheels, and the implement that's being hitched," says Murphy. "And they should stay outside until the tractor operator backs the tractor up and gets close to the implement, and then they should shut the tractor off, set the brakes or put it in park, and then the helper on the ground can move in."
It's always ideal to hitch on a flat surface, but if you can't do it that way make sure the brakes are set, and the wheels are chocked on the implement so it doesn't move when the tongue is picked up.
Murphy also advises not lifting an implement that's more than 10-to-15-percent of your body weight to reduce the stress on your back. If it's too heavy, grab a jack or blocks of some sort to support the tongue up off the ground.
When you're unhitching the implement, the operator should stop the tractor and set the brakes before pulling the pin out of the hitch. Make sure the implement wheels are chocked again.
"When you start to pull the pin, you can see there's a lot of pressure because if it pulls out easily and there's not a lot of pressure, the implement's much more likely to stay in place," says Murphy. "If it's hard to pull that pin out, that means there's probably pressure because you're not on flat-level ground. You have to be really careful that you have the implement chocked and that the tractor can't move. You pull the pin out and step back out of the way so that the implement doesn't come forward and crush you."
Hitch pins can fail, so be sure to have safety chains when transporting on the road.
Properly hitching an implement to the tractor
Additional safety tips for working with a hitch
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