WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Some jobs are best left to
professionals. That’s often true when pulling farm machinery and trucks out of
soft soil or ditches, said a Purdue University specialist.
Performed improperly or without the right equipment, the
seemingly simple task can result in costly damage and, possibly, physical
injury, said Fred Whitford, coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs.
Whitford is the lead author of a new Purdue Extension
publication on the topic, Extracting Stuck Equipment Safely: How to Avoid
Expensive and Painful Incidents, publication No. PPP-98.
The 96-page publication is available for free download or $5
in printed form from Purdue’s The Education Store. The book can be ordered
online at https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/item.asp?item_numberPPP-98.
“Everyone’s pulled out stuck equipment, and maybe it’s
always worked. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” Whitford said.
“You’ve got to think about whether you have the equipment
capable of doing the job and what kind of vehicle you’re using to do the
pulling. If you don’t it can lead to serious injury or death and, if chemicals
are involved, possible environmental contamination.”
In the book, Whitford and his contributors recount real-life
stories of people who were hurt when towing chains or straps broke and flew back
into the cab of the pulling vehicle. In some cases the pulling vehicle lost
bumpers and axles or sustained body damage.
“You might spend several hundred dollars for a professional
wrecking service to extract the stuck machinery, but that’s nothing compared to
losing potentially thousands of dollars if you do it yourself and things go
wrong,” Whitford said. “And, of course, you can’t put a price tag on someone’s
Extracting Stuck Equipment Safely covers assessing the stuck
machinery situation, choosing and inspecting pulling equipment, checking
attachment device ratings, communicating with the recovery team and what to do
if tragedy strikes.
“There’s a chapter where we go into the four ‘zones’ of
extraction and forces of resistance,” Whitford said. “There’s the stuck zone,
where the vehicle to be pulled is located; the tow zone, the truck or tractor
that’s going to be doing the pulling; the danger zone, which is the hookup
between the stuck and pulling vehicles where the stress is concentrated; and the
clear zone, where we make sure there are no people near you in the event
“Gathering all this information at the scene takes a couple
of minutes and will help us know if we can do the job safely.”
The full-color book contains photographs illustrating the
right and wrong ways to pull out stuck machinery and how to examine pulling
Others who contributed content to Extracting Stuck Equipment
Safely were Steve Hawkins, assistant director of Purdue Agricultural Centers;
Dennis Nowaskie, superintendent of Southwest-Purdue Agricultural Center; Doug
Busdeker, area general manager of farm centers for The Andersons; Mike
Depoister, owner of TriPower Towing and Recovery; Steve Queen, safety and risk
coordinator for Trupointe Cooperative; and Jamie Southard, safety and regulatory
director for Effingham Equity.