I have a great, interesting job!
I recently visited a farmer that has shoulder and knee problems after receiving a referral from RAVR, Rural and Agricultural VocRehab, a cooperative program of University of Vermont Extension and VocRehab Vermont. This gentleman has knee and shoulder problems, and was having trouble getting on and off his tractors. He had been enlisting his wife’s help with a stepstool to get on and off his Massey Ferguson 1080. Earlier this season, he was raking hay when, going around a corner, the rake plugged up with hay. He went to get off the tractor, missed the step, and fell flat on his back on the ground. He was unable to get up.
His wife noticed the tractor was stopped in the field, couldn’t see her husband, and went out to investigate. She was unable to get him up; fortunately, the person that was buying the hay pulled into the field with a wagon at that time, and between the two of them, they were able to get the farmer up off the ground. Luckily, the farmer was only bruised, not seriously injured.
No commercial steps are available for this tractor. It had just one step between the ground and the platform; the step was 20″ from the ground, and 19″ from the platform of the tractor. The only available hand-hold was on the fender of the tractor, on the farmer’s right side. Due to a previous injury and a non-successful surgical repair, the farmer had very limited range-of-motion in his right arm, unable to raise his arm to shoulder height. He was unable to use the hand-hold. This farmer is not a tall man; the 20″ and 19″ steps required to get on the tractor were just too difficult to use, even if he didn’t have knee problems.
I took many measurements and drawings of the tractor; I don’t like to make any additional holes if I don’t have to; you can see where the fuel tank is; best to not drill into that!! Luckily there are two accessible tapped holes I can use for attachment. I went back to the office with all of this information and designed the modifications. This farmer, with the help of Susan Brouillette, RAVR Counselor Assistant, had received a set of steps and handrail for his Farmall 806 . The additional 4th step had been ordered, but the farmer felt he didn’t need the 4th step. Not wanting to waste this step, I was able to include it in the modifications of the Massey. I determined that the existing step on the tractor needed to be built out about 2″, and spacers added to accommodate the slightly wider 4th step. These would then bolt on to the existing step to create a lower first step, about 11 inches from the ground. Four holes needed to be drilled in the existing step to attach this. I then designed an additional step to attach to the existing tapped holes as well as a grab-bar to attach with existing screws holding the sheet metal to the tractor. I took the plans to the fabricator, talked them over with him and got a price quote. RAVR approved the funding of the modifications; Friday they were attached to the tractor. The farmer was very pleased, he was able to use the hand-hold with his left arm and safely climb up and down the steps that are now a safe distance, about 9″ apart.
The Massey Ferguson 1080 is one of the many older tractors that are prevalent in Vermont. It has no roll bar; I explained the Vermont Rebates for Rollbars program and gave him information for accessing the program.