Staying Safe Around Tractor PTOs

Posted by AcreageLife on May 11, 2021 10:56:59 AM

Everyone working on your property should understand the basics of PTO safety


We’ve read the unfortunate headlines, but the story of farm-related injuries and deaths come every year, involving workers ranging in age from early teens to late 70s. Often, these involve making a poor split-second decision regarding the tractor’s PTO.

Massey Ferguson tractor with posthole attachment

PTOs, or power-takeoffs, make it possible to get power from your tractor to another piece of equipment, like a baler, mower or broadcast seed/fertilizer spreader. However, they also present safety challenges when operators fail to take proper precautions. 


In the blink of an eye, limbs and even lives have been lost in PTO-related accidents.


It’s about power transfer

To understand the dangers, it’s important to understand how a PTO shaft transfers power between the tractor and implement. The tractor’s PTO drive shaft is connected to a drive system on the implement. 



At full speed, the PTO and drive shaft rotate at 540 rpm (9 times per second) or 1000 rpm (16.6 times per second)—too fast for a human to react if a shirt sleeve gets caught in it.


Accidents tend to happen when someone gets too close to the moving parts. A loose sleeve can get snagged, and if the person tries to jerk it free, that actually makes things worse. 


Also, people can get complacent when they’re in the habit of working with machinery and take shortcuts—like reaching for a lever from the rear of the tractor with the PTO in gear. 

Massey Ferguson Tractor with augur attachment

Tractor experts from Massey Ferguson offer these eight important safety tips.

Key safety tips

  1. ALWAYS read and follow the warnings and safety procedures provided in the operator manual.
  2. ALWAYS stop the engine, disengage the PTO and remove the ignition key before dismounting to work on or adjust machinery. Put all guards back in place before operating the machine.
  3. Keep guards in place that shield the PTO stub and front drive shaft of the connected implement. 
  4. Do not wear loose-fitting clothes or jewelry and watch your boot laces or other hanging strings when working around a PTO.
  5. Keep long hair under a hat or tied up so it doesn’t hang down.
  6. Walk around equipment. Never step over a rotating PTO shaft.
  7. Keep children and pets away from moving parts and equipment, and don’t allow extra riders on the tractor.
  8. Watch out for projectiles when the PTO is engaged.

You won’t believe how fast disaster happens



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