Safer Times: The Good Day's Work Blog

Tractor Hitch Pins - Don't Count on Luck!

Posted by Marty Huseman on Sep 5, 2019
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There is a lot riding on the correct grade of hitch pin that links the implement to the tractor or truck. In fact, the hitch pin is a critical component in keeping control of implements we pull. More often than not a hitch pin is selected based on its diameter and length. Rarely is strength the top consideration. 

According to Fred Whitford, Purdue University, the bent hitch pins pictured below indicates that somebody got lucky!  A bent pin is a sign you needed something stronger, so pitch them before they get used during harvest because they're handy.  Better yet....pitch them so they never get used again. It may be just fine in the field, however, you open yourself up to much more risk when you take equipment on roadways.  

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Chances are you're NOT covered!

Did you know most policies do not cover you if a trailer or implement your pulling comes off from the towing unit?  Check with your insurance company.  Be absolutely sure you are covered.  An implement such as a loaded gravity wagon can cause catastrophic damage when it becomes detached on the roadway and collides with oncoming traffic.  

Negligence does not excuse you from responsibility.

A negligent driver can be found at fault civilly and possibly criminally if the wagons or implements that he or she was pulling happen to injure or kill someone.  And by default, the owner of the farm or business whose equipment was involved in the crash may also be brought into lawsuits and future settlements. Discard all homemade and bent hitch pins. Replace all pins with grade 8. Don't put family members and employees at risk by hoping they'll select the right pin and keeper every time. Remove all doubt. 


Selecting the Right Hitch Pin
  • Grade - only buy grade 8 pins
  • Diameter - select one size smaller than opening
  • Length - have enough length to insert keeper
  • Keeper - every pin needs a keeper when on roadways 


When traveling on roadways...

Verify you have the right hitch pins, keepers and chains for every piece of equipment that will travel on roads. Train employees to “only” use a proper hitch pin, keeper and chains on roadways and secure the implement EVERY TIME.  The driver is ultimately responsible….they must check the components even if someone else hooks them up. 


Connecting a trailer or implement to a tractor or truck creates a “single” vehicle through a hitch pin and safety chains. If a trailer/equipment comes unhitched from the towing unit, the results can be catastrophic: people can be injured or killed or a spill can damage the environment.


Possible Solutions for On-Road Use
  • Discard all bent and homemade pins
  • Replace with known grades 8
  • Attach pins to implement
  • Always keep your chains on
  • Check your insurance....make sure you're covered

Assessing your safety culture starts with recognizing the risks of even the little things like tractor hitch pins and developing a plan to keep your people safe. Don’t wait for an accident to happen to take a look at your equipment.

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Topics: tractors, safety culture, insurance/ risk management

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