Clemson Agricultural Safety

Safety Information – January 2022

Entanglement Hazards

While working around rotating equipment, PTO shafts, and other agricultural equipment, entanglement is always a concern. Entanglement occurs when a person’s clothing, hair, or limbs become caught within the spinning portion of the machine. This can result in serious injury, including amputations and loss of life.

A PTO shaft rotates at a speed of either 540 rpm (9 rotations per second) or 1,000 rpm (16.6 rotations per second). At these speeds, a person’s limb can be pulled into and wrapped around a PTO stub or driveline shaft several times before the person, even a person with extremely fast reflexes, can react. The fast rotation speed, operator error, and lack of proper guarding make PTOs a persistent hazard on farms and ranches.

Injuries that can be sustained from PTO incidents include severe contusion, cuts, spinal and neck injuries, dislocations, broken bones, and scalping. Some incidents can result in fatalities.

Safety Precautions

– Never step over a rotating shaft.

– Do not wear loose fitting clothing around PTO-driven equipment.

– Tie back long hair or secure it under a hat before operating equipment.

– Ensure that safety decals, such as “Rotating Driveline: Contact can cause death,” are readily visible. Replace decals that are obscured or incomplete.

– Always disengage the PTO and shut off the tractor before dismounting the tractor.

– Never work on machinery or equipment while the engine is running or is energized.

– Keep universal joints in phase.

– Do not switch drivelines between machines.

– To reduce driveline stress and separation, position the tractor’s drawbar appropriately for each piece of machinery.

– Reduce PTO shaft abuse by avoiding tight turns, reducing excessive telescoping, engaging power to the shaft gradually, and avoiding over-tightening the slip clutch on PTO-driven machines.

– Examine the driveline for protruding pins or bolts and debris such as mud that has dried onto the driveline shield. Clothing snags easily on such protrusions, resulting in entanglement incidents.

– As part of the preoperation inspection, if the driveline shield is equipped with a tether, ensure that the tether is attached and in good condition and that the driveline shield rotates freely on its bearings.

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