A power take off (PTO) driveline or shaft is a piece of mechanical equipment designed to transfer power generated on a farm tractor to operate equipment in tow. The equipment rotates at nine times a second (540 revolutions per minute) and up to 16.6 times every second (1000 RPM) when turning a full speed. Though an essential component to maximizing cultivating and harvesting processes, there are inherent dangers to using the equipment, especially when specific components are damaged, defective or incomplete.
Every year, thousands of farm workers are injured or killed as a result of a power take off accident where the equipment causes an entanglement or injury on the job. Without the shaft of the device being properly shielded, the farm worker is exposed to a shaft revolving at an incredibly high speed. If caught in the equipment, the revolving shaft can grind away tendons, muscles and skin while breaking bones or causing an amputation.
Data maintained by the federal government indicates that there are approximately 40 fatalities every year in addition to the 150 amputations and significant injuries including scalping. PTO entanglement is a leading factor of most of the injuries and deaths occurring as a result of a power take off accident. Farm owners are advised to develop, implement and enforce specific safety practices to ensure protection of all workers on the job. These practices include:
- Always disengage the PTO and shut the engine off before leaving the tractor seat
- Wait until the machinery and the driveline come to a full stop before performing maintenance or adjusting the equipment
- Perform a safety check on all farm workers and yourself to ensure that any loose hair, shoelaces or other straps are secured away from moving parts
- Never wear loose fitting clothes or jewelry that can become entangled when operating the tractor
- Properly secure all long hair by keeping it tied back in under a cap to minimize the potential of being caught in machinery
- Teach other adults and children about the dangerous risks of PTO entanglement
- Caution everyone approaching the tractor, machinery and equipment about PTO entanglement when near a moving driveline and maintain a safe working zone
- Never step across or reach over a moving PTO shaft
- Replace or repair any missing or damaged shield
Retrofitting tractors with appropriate guarding including U-shaped tunnel guards are highly effective at minimizing the potential risks of a power take off accident. However, farm equipment guarding needs to be routinely inspected and maintained to ensure OSHA compliance.
Every hazard involving a power take off accident needs to be properly addressed in front of all farm workers. In addition, farm owners, managers and supervisors should conduct informal training with every employee. Training should involve procedures for working on or around PTOs, maintenance protocols and proper clothing, where safety practices are not only encouraged but also enforced.
Maintaining compliance also requires monitoring and correcting any work practice that falls outside protocols to minimize the potential of anyone being injured or killed by PTO entanglement. The monitored work practices and enforcement of safety protocols should include formal disciplinary processes to maintain the highest level of safety on the farm.
Legal Remedies When Injured by a Power Take Off
If you have been injured, or a loved one has been killed, as a result of a PTO or driveline entanglement, you might be entitled to receive compensatory damages. Surviving family members including spouses, children, grandparents and others might have the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit to hold all responsible parties accountable for their negligence.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC specialize in farming accidents caused by the negligent or reckless actions of others. We provide aggressive legal representation to ensure that victims receive adequate and fair recompense for their damages and losses. When appropriate, we seek punitive damages for the egregious misconduct of others that have caused harm.
Call our law offices today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule an evaluation of your claim. Our law team can offer numerous legal options in handling your claim for compensation. We accept power takeoff accident injury cases on contingency. This means we are paid only when we successfully obtain compensation for you in an out of court settlement or through a jury award at trial.