Rural farm children learn about agricultural work through observation and participation. Attractive nuisances often exist when young children become attracted to a situation not realizing or understanding the potential dangers. Childhood deaths can be attributed to being run over by an agricultural vehicle or being an extra passenger on an agricultural tractor, skid steer, etc. Children are at risk when they enter into any workspace where the tractor, a farm truck or hauler, skid steer, or lift truck is being used. The blind spots to the sides and to the rear of these machines, along with the operator preoccupied by work duties can combine to cause a fatal situation for children and other bystanders.
Learning Objective for the Demonstration
- To understand the dangers of blind spots in agricultural machinery and vehicle operation.
A Skid Steer Mock-up (See Figure 1) should be prepared before class or use an actual skid steer. Note: Since the skid steer does not have to be operated at this time, be sure to remove the ignition key to reduce liability.
If building the skid steer demo, the following materials are needed:
- Large appliance size cardboard box (e.g., freezer or refrigerator). Prepare demonstration based on drawing and procedures.
- Duct tape
- Clothes pins
Procedure and Key Discussion Points
- Select a volunteer to occupy the chair inside the skid steer mock-up or skid steer.
Key Discussion Point: Discuss the hazard situation using local examples as appropriate. Students may have heard of an injury or fatality involving a skid steer running over someone.
- Start with lift arm simulator in down position.
- Instruct the volunteer to pretend to operate the skid steer (e.g., pedals, hand controls, etc.). You could give commands from alongside the model as to what tasks they should complete.
- Have another person move behind the mock-up without the volunteer driver knowing that they are in that position.
- Ask the volunteer driver to tell you if there is a person behind them or, instruct the person behind the skid steer to move around toward the side until the volunteer driver can see them and mark that position.
- Have the person go to the opposite side of the mock-up skid steer and move forward until the volunteer driver can see them and mark that position.
Key Discussion Points: Have the group discuss field of vision and calculate the blind spot in degrees of peripheral vision. Ask students to calculate each operator's field of vision.
- Repeat with lift arms in the up position. If using a real skid steer, it will be necessary to operate it. Use a reliable assistant for this task and make sure the lift arm locks are secured.
Figure 1. Diagram of an appliance box used to make a skid steer demo.
Take-home Points for the Demonstrations
- Ability to define peripheral vision
- Understanding of how peripheral vision impacts the safety of children on the farm
We have provided a one page evaluation which has been designed to be used with participants after each lesson. The answer key is offered below.
Evaluation Questions Answer Key
- (student response)
- (student response)
Murphy, D. and Harshman, W. (2015) Skid-steer safety for farm and landscape. Penn State Extension.