Safety Tips FACE Reports

FACEValue: Orchard supervisor run over by tractor, sprayer

Case report: #12WA024
Issued by: Washington State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program
Date of incident: July 4, 2012

A 44-year-old apple orchard supervisor died when a tractor and an attached tank sprayer ran over him when he was making repairs to the sprayer. The victim had worked at the orchard for 16 years. On the day of the incident, the victim was changing a tire on the sprayer outside the repair shop. The sprayer was attached to a tractor that was more than 30 years old. Another worker had written a note explaining that the sprayer was not getting enough pressure and left to retrieve parts so the victim could complete the tire change. In order to check the pressure jets or adjust the sprayer position, the victim started the tractor while standing beside it. When he did so, the tractor and the sprayer moved forward and ran him over. An investigation determined that the tractor was left in gear and had a defective ignition switch that allowed the tractor to start while in gear. Several employees were aware of the broken ignition switch, but did not report it to the orchard manager.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Ensure employees do not use defective or unsafe tools and equipment.
  • Take defective equipment out of service until it is repaired and safe to operate.
  • Train employees to ensure they follow safe procedures when parking, starting or repairing tractors.

*This report is the product of NIOSH’s Cooperative State partner. The findings and conclusions in each report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of NIOSH.