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 03-20-2005, 19:14 Post: 108402
brokenarrow



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 Tractor Roll Over Safety

Tractor troubles
Families lobby for rollover protection
FOREST TOWNSHIP
THE FLINT JOURNAL FIRST EDITION
Sunday, March 20, 2005
By Robert Snell
Rollover history

Recent area rollover tractor deaths include:
Feb. 13, 2005: Richard Serrels, 32, of Forest Township died after the 1951 Ford tractor he was operating flipped while hauling a tree from the woods behind his house.

April 21, 2002: Daniel Shepp, 31, of Flushing was killed and his 2-year-old son injured when their tractor flipped backward as the father tried to pull out a large bush in Clayton Township.

Oct. 10, 1998: Charles Eldred, 48, of Linden died when a log he was pulling became entangled, causing the 1950 Ford tractor he was driving to flip on top of him.


How tractor fatalities happen

Tractors can roll sideways when riding along ditches or flip backward when trying to pull heavy loads or if they are stuck on something. Newer tractors have roll bars, seat belts and cabs that cradle drivers during rollovers.


Where to get help
The National Farm Medicine Center has an Internet guide that lets farmers see if rollover systems are available for various tractors. Visit www2.marshfieldclinic.


Safety features

All tractors sold today are required to have safety equipment installed.


Safety tips

To reduce rollover risks:
Avoid sharp turns and reduce speed when turning.

Avoid driving on steep embankments, near ditches and holes.

Hitch loads to a drawbar. Many rollovers happen when loads are hitched to axles.

FOREST TWP. - Relatives stashed the old red tractor deep in the woods, deep enough so that Gretchen Serrels couldn't see it.

Serrels wanted it destroyed - retribution, really, against a machine that killed her husband, Richard, 32, in a Feb. 13 rollover accident.

Spurred by Richard Serrels' death, three families linked by the tragic bond of surviving loved ones who were killed in tractor rollovers are uniting to raise safety standards and awareness of old tractors and rollover accidents.

All three men died while riding old tractors that flipped over on them. The tractors are common because they are durable and inexpensive - costing about $1,400, compared to new tractors that can run $15,000 and up.

But old tractors that lack seat belts and rollbars are taking a toll on farmers who are dying in preventable rollover accidents, experts say.

Reports indicate tractor accidents kill more than 300 farmers annually, more than half due to rollovers,. More than 34 people have died in Michigan from tractor accidents since 2001.

But only about a third of the tractors in the U.S. have rollover protection, according to a 2002 Iowa State University study.

"If nothing is done, you'll be writing about someone else (dying)," said Steve Dawes of Flushing, whose brother-in-law, Daniel Shepp, was killed in 2002.

The solution is a rollbar system that comes standard on tractors built since the mid-1970s. Many older tractors can be retrofitted with seat belts and rollbars, but doing so can cost up to $1,000 - in some cases, an option more expensive than the tractor itself.

State Rep. John Gleason, D-Flushing, spurred by a promise to the late father of one victim, is drafting legislation that would mandate rollbars for every tractor made before the 1970s. The bill could be introduced next month.

"It's incredibly frustrating," said Marc Schenker, chairman of the Public Health Sciences Department at the University of California-Davis. "Unlike so many other things where we don't have a solution, here we have one."

Dying words

Daniel Shepp was conscious after the tractor flipped and pinned him to the ground.

"Get my boy," he told the first people to reach him.

His 2-year-old son, Austin, had been riding in his lap after Shepp hitched a chain tied to the back of an old tractor to a lilac bush at his in-laws' property in Clayton Township.

As the tractor pulled, the bush didn't budge and lifted the tractor's nose in the air.

It was already too late.

Relatives believe Shepp, 31, a pipefitter from Flushing, had time to hurl his son free from the tractor, saving the boy's life.

Shepp's relatives want to return the favor by alerting farmers and rural residents who use old tractors as all-purpose vehicles.

"If we can save one family from going through losing their high school sweetheart, someone whose two boys will grow up without a father," said Dawes, 45.

Through the grief and heartache of Shepp's death, his relatives refused to sit idly by while people continued to die.

"Tell people how dangerous they are," said Shepp's widow, Larissa, 32. "People need to be educated."

Shepp's sister, Sue Dawes of Flushing, has been removed from stores that sell old tractors after asking salespeople if they told potential buyers about the safety risks. She often knocks, uninvited, on doors leading from driveways where farmers peddle antique tractors.

Dawes, 46, wants to give people the information her brother never had about the vehicle's dangers.

"He didn't know," she said. "That's what he was guilty of."

Before Shepp's father, Robert, died in May, a day after he was diagnosed with lung cancer, Gleason promised that he would push for a law mandating rollbars on old tractors.

"They just roll over too easy," Gleason said. "The most important thing is to make sure if they roll over, that the driver is protected."

He acknowledged the law might be tough to enforce, but it would be similar to helmet and seat belt laws.

"I'm going to push this as absolutely hard as I can," Gleason said.

One tractor safety expert said Gleason's campaign is a welcome but misguided attempt to make tractors safer. Instead, he said, victims' families should push for greater public awareness.

"The problem is not necessarily the equipment," said Howard Doss, a retired Michigan State University farm-safety specialist. "The problem has to do with the casual buyer-operator."

Many risks, one solution

There are many ways to die on a tractor.

Holes and stumps can hobble tractors traveling at higher speeds. Sudden turns and steep inclines kill, and sideways rollovers are common when riding along ditches. Hitching loads to the rear of a tractor can pull it backwards, crushing farmers underneath.

A combination of lax safety rules and a farm culture in which risk is accepted as much as rain and sun is leading to more deaths, safety experts said.

"There is a tradition of assuming risk," Schenker said. "This is a hazard, and it's the way my father and grandfather did it."

Rollover risks have been minimized on most new tractors that feature so-called rollover protective structures. The safety equipment includes two- and four-post frames, seat belts and cabs that cradle drivers during rollovers.

In 1976, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration required all new tractors be equipped with rollover devices. But the requirement only covers farms with more than 11 employees.

Overseas, Sweden has nearly eliminated rollover deaths. From 1984-90, less than one farmer a year died after the government instituted regulations mandating rollover protection, according to the country's Center for Product Safety.

About 93 percent of Swedish tractors have some type of rollover protection. Schenker wants to see the United States follow suit, suggesting farmers could receive tax credits for adding rollbars to tractors.

The Michigan Farm Bureau encourages rollover protection, but it does not believe the devices should become mandatory, said Legislative Counsel Jim Miller.

"We feel people can evaluate their own situations," he said.

Victims' families disagree.

Two of the three men who died - Serrels and Shepp - had little experience operating the machines and were driving borrowed tractors.

Both made fatal mistakes, experts said, when they hitched loads to the back of the tractor.

Charles Eldred of Linden made the same mistake, though he had considerably more experience operating his 1950 Ford tractor. This man's death illustrates how a fluke can prove fatal.

A General Motors technician and father of three, Eldred was pulling a tree out of some woods on Oct. 10, 1998. While dragging the log across a meadow near Silver Lake and South Seymour roads in Argentine Township, it snagged on a root the size of a thumb.

The tractor flipped and pinned Eldred, 48, to the ground. The crash broke his back, and Eldred, a safety-conscious man who relatives said knew the tractor's limits, died alone in the field.

"There was no getting away from that one," said son Brad Eldred, 34, who found his father's body.

Spurred by his father's death, Brad Eldred and a Mott Community College professor invented a kill switch that shorts a tractor's ignition if the front end lifts off the ground or approaches a steep incline.

"I just didn't want to see it happen to anyone else," he said.

He hoped the inexpensive device would be added to old Ford tractors, but he was rebuffed after approaching the company, he said.

Like Shepp's family, the Eldreds were repulsed when they learned of the Forest Township fatality. If nothing more, they want to reach at least one family and prevent future deaths.

"We see it again and again and again," said Diane Eldred. "We have a problem. If we can just get the word out and some of these people just listen ..."

Coming homeAs with the other families, Richard Serrels' death provided a grim introduction to the dangers of tractors.

"I had no clue that was even a possibility," wife Gretchen Serrels said. "I don't think he even had a clue there were dangers like that."

Police found the General Motors senior product engineer pinned to the ground on private property along N. Henderson Road, south of Willard Road.

The 1951 Ford tractor flipped backward while Serrels, 32, was hauling a tree from the woods behind his house. Serrels had hitched a rope around the tree to the back of the tractor.

The tractor flipped, and the steering wheel pinned him to the ground, suffocating him, police said.

The tractor is no longer hidden in the woods behind the Serrels home. It was returned to the relatives who loaned it to her husband, although Gretchen had other plans for it.

"I wanted to pay for it and have it destroyed," she said. "I didn't want anybody to have it."











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 03-20-2005, 19:23 Post: 108405
AV8R



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 Tractor Roll Over Safety

Reason number 7,436 that liberalism is a mental disease, not a political point of view.


RESPONSIBILITY FOR ONES SELF HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE GOVERNMENT, BUTT OUT!






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 03-21-2005, 04:27 Post: 108432
harvey



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 Tractor Roll Over Safety

I am guessing: according to this if you own or get killed on a tractor you are a farmer? Around here the people that get hurt are usually the weekend city people who have never been around machinery or are moving back to their roots and have forgotten much common sense.

2 years ago, the most recent real farmer incident I recall, we did have a "REAL" farmer get tangled in a tedder when he was removing hay that was wrapped around the spindle and when the pressure was released the mechanisims moved pinning him. No permenant damage just brusied and scabbed up.

Soon it will be if you own a chainsaw you'll be a logger?






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 03-21-2005, 06:00 Post: 108435
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 Tractor Roll Over Safety

As the article above illustrates, many roll-overs happen due to improper hitching of loads. If a load is hitched only to the fixed drawbar (NOT a crossbar between the lower 3 point hitch links), the wheels will usually spin before the front end comes up. It is natural to want to hitch high to get more traction when pulling stumps, etc, but that can be fatal. Also illustrated is the potential danger of using tractors as log skidders. The end of the log is chained to the crossbar mentioned above and lifted off the ground and away we go. Should something snag the front edge of the log, though, and the tractor could flip in an instant.

I own and use vintage tractors and equipment that lack many of the safety features that new machines have. My 50-year old John Deeres will never be as stable as low-slung utility tractors, so I must take more precautions of where and how fast I drive them.

Laws forcing me to install roll bars will not make the tractors physically less likely to roll over. It may, however, make users of old equipment more careless. And who will do the engineering and test work to verify that the axles and other ROPS mounting points on a 50-year old tractor are up to the task? What company would shoulder the liability of producing ROPS structures for every model of old tractor out there? Who would be liable if the axle on my 1948 JD M snaps off in a rollover because it wasn't designed to support a ROPS? Like was said above, sometimes the government gets involved where they should probably not go.

Be careful, be smart, and think through potential consequences of what you are doing before actually doing it. We owe it to our children to do nothing less.






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 03-27-2005, 13:04 Post: 108852
jdcman



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 Tractor Roll Over Safety

This isn't about liberalism --- just plain stupidity.

Brought to you by the same folks who drive Volvo's, play cop in the left hand lane of the freeway, believe that guns jump off tables and shoot people and hold this silly belief that humanoids are more deserving as a life form!

The fact is when you do something stupid and don't think, bad things can happen.

It's just a culling of the herd, sad, but true. Hopefully others will learn from the mistakes of the careless.

We've all done stupid stuff, taken that chance and after wards thought, hmm that was stupid.

Legislation isnít going to fix stupidity, it's a learning process --- it's part of life. You canít protect people from themselves; no matter how hard you try!






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 11-28-2008, 14:36 Post: 158198
serrels



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you dont have to be a farmer for this my daddy was just picking up r yard i know it was a tragidy but it happend






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 11-28-2008, 14:38 Post: 158199
serrels



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sry but my dad wasnt careless k






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 11-28-2008, 16:26 Post: 158204
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Sorry about your dad. However, if you're going to troll the web defending your dad, have some pride and spell correctly. We're adults here. You're not texting in junior high. Make your dad proud, ok?






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 11-28-2008, 16:38 Post: 158205
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serrels | view 158199
sry but my dad wasnt careless k



My condolences also.

I hesitate to even say so, and please understand the following is offered purely in the interest of safety.

I would point out however, the 'text book' definition of 'careless' would include operating a machine like a tractor without knowing how to do so properly.

A tractor is a very safe, stable machine when operated properly, and a VERY dangerous one when not.

I can only guess that a rollover that happened while "just picking up r yard" would be in the 'improper' category.

Again, my condolences.

Best of luck.






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 12-01-2008, 17:04 Post: 158266
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serrels | view 158199
sry but my dad wasnt careless k



It is sad to loose your Dad regardless the reason. Mine walked in our home soon be 39 years ago to drop dead of a heart attack. May I make a suggestion from another Dad, there are some very good people here who may seem ruff and tuff (and are as needed) but have great hearts and would be very willing to help you learn so you can be a safe operator. Let them. It might prove helpful if you were willing to share the details of the accident. I must admit, texting type does not work for me either.






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