The research reported here sought to more fully understand the types and causative factors of injury/fatality incidents resulting from the rearward-movement of tractors and other self-propelled agricultural machinery, with the view that such findings might lead to the development, improvement, and/or better utilization of safety procedures, design principles, and technologies that would prevent—or at least markedly reduce—their occurrence. Thus, the scope of this study focused only on rearward-travel (not mechanical malfunction) incidents, and principally on agricultural equipment (although cases involving similar equipment in industrial or construction settings were also drawn upon). Applying these two criteria, a search of published and online sources uncovered more than 100 documented cases, 35 of which could clearly be identified as rearward-movement incidents, of which 28 (80%) were fatal. Each of these 35 cases were then assessed, based on the type of machine, type of worksite, and type/description of incident (i.e., ‘scenario’), which fell into one of three distinct categories or classifications—(1) co-worker run over/crushed/otherwise injured because operator loses visual contact with co-worker; (2) bystander run over/crushed/otherwise injured because operator is unaware of bystander’s presence; and (3) operator run over/crushed/otherwise injured because operator loses visual contact with, or is unaware of, a stationary object or a hazard. Then, from each scenario, a representative incident (i.e., case study) was selected for a more in-depth analysis. The collective findings, from these three case studies and all 35 machinery rearward-movement incidents, were as follows: (1) The ‘victim’ could be the machine operator as well as a co-worker or a bystander; (2) The specific site of the co-worker or bystander injury/fatality was at the base of the machine’s rear tires or tracks, at the hitching point, or behind a towed implement; (3) The specific cause was loss of visual contact between the operator and co-worker/bystander due to visual obstruction, the operator’s physical limitations, or the operator’s and/or bystander’s lack of alertness. To reduce the likelihood of future occurrences of agricultural machinery rearward travel-related incidents, preventive measures aimed at addressing the key causative factors for each scenario are offered.
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