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Vehicle Towing and Recovery

Vehicle towing and recovery on farms can be quite common; however, the equipment used to perform such activities is different by design. Towing a vehicle involves unimpeded rolling stock on a flat surface only, and recovery involves a vehicle that is stuck in some manner (i.e. mud, soft ground, ditches, etc.) that may or may not be on a flat surface and is impeded from rolling or moving. Typical rigging for lifting applications may not be sufficient for the stresses imposed during vehicle recovery and may result in serious injury or death from backlash in the event of failure.

This Vehicle Recovery and Towing Guideline provides some basic principles of vehicle recovery, which include the following:

  • Do not use a lighter vehicle to pull out a heavier vehicle.
  • Do not use tow straps, chains, or cables that can become killer metal missiles. Do not use a web sling (used for verticle lifting of loads).
  • Use only a recovery strap with proper loops and appropriate rating for the load. Check the Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS) of the strap. It should be 2-3 times the stuck vehicle's weight.
  • Do not attach a recovery strap to bumpers, ball hitches, bull bars, or tie-down eyes. These can tear free under towing stress.
  • Only attach recovery strap securely to a load-rated component (i.e. loop onto tow hooks, engineered recovery device, or on shackle with a pin in hitch receiver).
  • DO NOT let anyone stand in close proximity to the strap during recovery operations. Personnel should stay at least two times the length of the recovery strap way (in all directions).
  • Vehicles should be aligned within 10 degrees of a straight line.
  • Ensure tow hooks, hitch receivers, and any shackles used are rated to loads that exceed the recovery strap Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS).

Contact Information

Robin McCall-Miller, Occupational Safety Program Manager