Tractor Operator Qualification Policy

All Michigan State University operators of tractors are required to have a permit issued by Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Occupational Safety Team validating that they have received approved training, and meet the requirements of the MIOSHA law. This document describes the procedures to be followed to issue permits and insure compliance.

This guideline applies to all MSU employees that operate tractors for performing work or conducting research.

Reference Regulation: Tractors, MIOSHA General Industry Safety Standard, Part 22. Agricultural Tractors, MIOSHA Safety Standards for Agriculture, Part 51.


Designated trainer – An employee designated by EHS to perform onsite training of operators of tractors. A designated trainer is one of the following:

  • For farm employees – the farm manager or farm manager’s designated trainer.

Operator – An employee who has been trained and authorized by the employer to operate a tractor.

Tractor – One of the following:

  • Agricultural-type tractor: A 2- or 4- wheel drive vehicle of more than 20 engine horsepower and designed to furnish the power to pull, carry, propel, or drive attachments primarily intended for use in agricultural operations.

  • Industrial Tractor: A 2- or 4- wheel drive vehicle of more than 20 engine horsepower designated as an industrial tractor by the manufacturer, but having the appearance of an agricultural tractor, and designed to furnish the power to pull, carry, propel, or drive attachments primarily intended for industrial use.


Supervisors and Principal Investigators

  • Implement this guideline by assuring all operators of tractors have received online and on-site training, and have been issued a valid permit prior to operating a tractor.
  • Identify employees that operate tractors, and restrict access of untrained employees.
  • Ensure that all equipment is in proper working order. If equipment is found to not be in proper working order, remove from service.


  • Conduct daily inspection of tractors prior to use.
  • Operate tractors in accordance with the training received.
  • Report any unsafe work practices, near misses or injuries to your supervisor or EHS.
  • Report any unsafe equipment to your supervisor to be removed from service and repaired or replaced.
  • Carry issued tractor permit with you at all times during operation of equipment, or make available upon request.

Designated Trainers

  • EHS Occupational Safety Team provides an online training program for tractor operators. Maintain records of this training and on-site evaluations.
  • Be knowledgeable in the operation of tractors in their work unit, be familiar with safe work practices applicable to the operation of tractors, and provide proper on-site training to employees as required.
  • Issue permits to operators that meet all training requirements.
  • Provide guidance and assistance on operations and equipment.
  • Develop and revise training and daily checklist requirements as necessary.
  • Maintain records of physical requirements of all operators of tractors.


Initial permit: When an employee is assigned to operate a tractor by their supervisor, the following will be completed to obtain a permit. 

  • The employee must pass the Tractor Operator Permit learning track.
  • The employee successfully completes the on-site evaluation with a designated trainer. The supervisor decides whether this form is completed for each model of tractor, or for designated categories of tractors that the employee is approved to use.
  • Completed evaluation form is submitted to EHS Occupational Safety Team for approval.
  • Once EHS receives record of the online training program, record of on-site evaluation the permit will be issued and mailed to the supervisor or department representative. Two copies of the permit are sent, one for the employee to carry, and one for the department’s training records.
  • All operators must carry their permit with them while operating a tractor, or make available upon request. Employees must make this permit available upon request to supervisors, EHS Occupational Safety Team staff, or MIOSHA representatives.

Permit renewal: A permit will be renewed every three years. Permit renewal will consist of the following:

  • An evaluation by EHS Occupational Safety Team of records of tractors that the operator is permitted to operate. This will be done to ensure that the operator has been trained on any new equipment since the past permit issuance.
  • An online refresher training reviewing any new safety topics from the industry.
    • Refresher training: Refresher training is required under any of the following conditions:
      • An operator has been observed to operate the tractor in an unsafe manner.
      • An operator has been involved in an accident or a near-miss incident.
      • An operator has received an evaluation that reveals that the operator is not operating the tractor safely.
      • An operator is assigned to a different type of tractor.
      • A condition in the workplace changes that could affect the safe operation of the tractor.
      • Three years has passed since last permit issue date.
    • Revoking a permit: Each permit issued remains the property of Michigan State University and as such can be revoked at any time for non-compliance of this guideline and/or other justifications as determined reasonable by the EHS Occupational Safety Team or supervisor.