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Tractor power take-off (PTO) accidents may occur when you live or work on a farm. These accidents happen when clothing or limbs are entangled in rotating power take-off equipment. A PTO shaft accident can result in severe injury or even death.

Data reports that thousands offarmworkers are injured or killed due to power take-off accidents each year. These accidents occur when the equipment causes an entanglement or injury. If you have been injured in a power take-off accident, you may be entitled to compensation.


The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, are legal advocates for families who have been injured through medical negligence. We provide immediate legal advice and representation to ensure our clients receive the maximum compensation they deserve.

Call our farm accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

What Is Power Take-Off Machinery?

A power take-off (PTO) driveline or shaft is a piece of mechanical equipment designed to transfer the power generated on a farm tractor to operate equipment in tow. PTO farm equipment includes elevators, grain augers, hay balers, and silage blowers.

The power take-off transfers power from the tractor to the other farm equipment. The PTO and drive shaft rotate quickly. The National Agriculture Safety Database [1] reports that the PTO system rotates at 540 rpm (9 times per second) or 1,000 rpm (16.6 times per sec) at the full recommended speed.

A PTO driveline hazard, sometimes known as the machinery wrapping point hazard, is one of the oldest and most common hazards of farming tractors. When using a tractor equipped for farming purposes, it almost always has a rotating PTO shaft. A master shield covering this mechanism is necessary to prevent accidents on the farm.

What Is a PTO Drive Shaft Accident?

A PTO accident occurs when the operator becomes entangled or caught in the rotating shaft. When rotating, the shaft needs to be guarded with a shield. If left unguarded, clothing or an arm or leg can become caught in the shaft, leading to severe injury or a fatality.

According to the National Agriculture Safety Database data, most PTO incidents occur when clothing or limbs are entangled in the rotating PTO shaft. Unguarded rotating PTO shafts have pins and connections that can quickly catch clothing, arms, or legs.

Clothing that often becomes caught in a PTO shaft includes:

  • Boot laces
  • Pant legs
  • Overalls and coveralls
  • Sweatshirts

Many PTO accidents are preventable with the right safety equipment, adequate shielding, proper maintenance, and knowledgeable operation. Anyone handling a tractor should be aware of safety practices.

Most PTO shafts that entangle clothing or limbs are often left unguarded with shields, or the tractor is still engaged after usage.

A PTO tractor or auger may be left engaged after operating as a result of the following by the operator:

  • Forgetting or assuming the clutch is disengaged
  • Not realizing the shaft is spinning at a dangerous speed
  • Performing another work activity while the tractor is not powered off

Causes of Power Take-Off Shaft Injuries

A PTO accident can occur for many different reasons. The most common reason for these injuries involves entangled work clothing and limbs, leading to devastating injuries. Other causes may include control or operation of the tractor, work practices, and worker compliance with safety standards followed by the farm company.

Common causes of power take-off accidents include:

  • The tractor has a damaged or missing shield
  • Power take-off equipment may run without operator input if they are performing maintenance
  • Work performed may require exposure to PTO rotating driveline
  • Malfunctioning PTO shafts can disconnect from the machine, striking anyone in its path
  • Becoming caught between the tractor and the ground

When an accident occurs due to power take-off shafts, the farmworker may be at risk of severe injury or death. They may suffer mutilation, require amputation, or sustain permanent disability.

It is common for workers to become trapped, buried, or entangled in power take-off rotating parts. Before working with this equipment, it is essential to raise awareness of the dangers of the job and ways to prevent accidents from occurring in your company.

Dangers PTO Operators Face

The most significant cause of PTO accidents is when the shaft is left unguarded. However, an ill-fitting or poorly installed master shield or driveline shield is as dangerous as an unguarded shaft.

Some guards need to be removed for cleaning and maintenance, which increases the risk of forgetting to replace them or even misplacing them before re-installation. Training and education are often the best security for preventing any injuries.

When performing work responsibilities, operators may be tempted to take shortcuts that can be costly. However, it is essential to take all precautions concerning any spinning parts on a daily basis.

An operator should always protect their body by:

  • Never stepping over the shaft
  • Always turn off machinery when making repairs or adjustments
  • Never removing debris from the shaft while it is engaged
  • Installing or maintaining shields that need replacing or correctly attached

Common Injuries Associated With PTO Machinery

Unguarded PTO shafts can cause extensive bodily harm or even death to farmworkers. To prioritize health and safety on the farm, farm owners should be putting education, training, and maintenance of their tractors at the forefront.

Because most injuries sustained from PTO accidents involve limbs or clothing being caught in the rotating shafts, they are often extensive and severe. These machines have also killed many workers over the years.

Most common injuries sustained from PTO accidents include:

  • Severed limbs, such as arm, foot, or leg
  • Muscle damage
  • Limb amputation
  • Head trauma [2]
  • Spine and neck injuries, resulting in possible paralysis

In some cases, rotating shafts can also catch clothing and start a fire. When someone is entangled in the tractor and is working alone, they can suffer from burn injuries. Operating farm tractors alone on the farm is ill-advised to prevent fatality or incur additional bodily harm. When someone else is on the job site, they can free and stabilize anyone caught in machines.

Preventing Power Take-Off Accidents

According to the National Library of Medicine [3], fifty percent of PTO drive shaft accidents result from negligence. This negligence results from faulty equipment, failure to meet safety protocols or inadequate employee training.

Before hiring a new farm employee, it is essential to raise awareness of safety practices to prevent drive shaft injuries.

PTO entanglement is a leading factor in most injuries and deaths occurring due to a power take-off accident. Farm owners are advised to develop, implement and enforce specific safety practices to ensure the protection of all operators on the job.

Ways to prevent PTO shaft accidents include:

  • Avoid clearing blockages while PTO is rotating
  • Turn off the engine before leaving the site
  • Entirely stop any machines before exiting
  • Avoid loose-fitting clothing or material
  • Secure any loose or long hair from becoming attached to the shaft
  • Teach other adults and children about the dangerous risks of PTO entanglement
  • Never step across or reach over a moving PTO shaft
  • Replace or repair any missing or damaged PTO shielding

Farm equipment needs to function correctly and protect those working for your company. When safety is at the forefront of business practices, there will be fewer injuries and accidents with farm machinery when your services are being performed.

The Responsibility of Farm Manufacturers

Companies that manufacture farm machines – such as a tractor, augers, or hay balers – are responsible for producing high-quality, safe, and well-made machines. Their services are of the utmost importance to protecting wrap or entanglement injuries.

The manufacturer may be liable if:

  • The tractor was defective
  • The shield was ineffective or broken
  • The tractor did not meet safety standards
  • The shaft was unsafe or functioning incorrectly

If injury or death results from negligence from farm manufacturers, you may be entitled to compensation.

What Can I Do If I Have Sustained Injury Due to a Rotating PTO Shaft?

PTO accidents can be devastating, but they are almost always preventable. By practicing the following safety protocols, protecting the body, and trusting the right machine manufacturers, it is possible to prevent these injuries or deaths.

If you have been injured or suffered a loss due to a power take-off accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation. Although farm machinery is often viewed as unsafe, it is essential to take specific safety measures when operating this equipment. Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring safety standards to keep every farmworker safe from common hazards of their farm machinery.

Hire a Medical Malpractice Attorney to Resolve Your Personal Injury Claim

Are you the victim of personal injury involving a power take-off accident? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for injured victims harmed through another’s negligence.

Call us today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

We accept all personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee agreement. This arrangement ensures you pay nothing until we have resolved your case through a negotiated settlement or jury trial award.

Resources: [1] National Agriculture Safety Database , [2] Mayo Clinic, [3] PubMed

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