A sprayer falls into creek, spilling 700 gallons of fertilizer.

While it’s legal to drive farm equipment on public roads, mobile equipment operators must take proper precautions to safely share the roadways with others. And when the equipment is a high-clearance sprayer carrying potentially hazardous chemicals, safety must be the overriding priority.

Please take a moment to review the real-life case we’ve outlined below. It may save you and your company from costly accidents, lawsuits and violations.

A case study in a bulk chemical spill

An employee was driving a fully-loaded, high-clearance sprayer on a paved, two-lane, two-way public road. As the sprayer approached a small bridge, the employee noticed an approaching vehicle and crowded to the right to make room for the oncoming vehicle.

As the employee crossed the bridge, the right front wheel of the sprayer went over the guardrail. The sprayer continued to the main bridge deck where the railing broke, causing the machine to flip upside down into the creek below, leaking 700 gallons of fertilizer/herbicide mix. Injuries to the driver were also reported.

Risk Management recommendations to avoid similar accidents

  • Tender applicators in the field. This allows the vehicle to be driven empty and lowers its center of gravity.
  • Wait for all traffic to pass before crossing bridge. Rural roads and bridges weren’t designed to handle large, modern farm equipment.
  • Stay in the middle of the road, away from either side of the bridge. Obstacles such as bridge abutments, guardrails, barricades and soft shoulders can be hard to see and maneuver.
  • Inspect, maintain and operate mobile equipment in compliance with the law. Obey all laws.
  • Follow all traffic regulations and always wear your seat belt. It could save your life.
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