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NIOSH Alert: Request for Assistance in Preventing Scalping and Other Severe Injuries from Farm Machinery

CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) periodically issues alerts on workplace hazards that have caused death, serious injury, or illness to workers. One such alert, Request for Assistance in Preventing Scalping and Other Severe Injuries from Farm Machinery (1), was recently published and is available to the public. *

This alert warns that farm workers are at high risk for avulsion of the scalp and other severe injuries when they work near farm machinery with inadequately guarded drivelines or shafts driven by power take-offs (PTOs). Entanglement of hair, clothing, or body parts around these drivelines or shafts kills and injures many farm workers each year: according to the NIOSH National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities Surveillance System, at least 346 farm workers aged greater than or equal to 16 years died from farm-related entanglement injuries during 1980-1989; 112 of those deaths were caused by entanglement in PTO-driven drivelines and shafts of farm machinery. Approximately 10,000 nonfatal entanglement injuries also occurred on farms during 1982-1986; 864 of these injuries included the loss of a body part (1).

The alert describes five persons who were severely injured when their hair became entangled around the inadequately guarded rotating drivelines or shafts of farm machinery driven by PTOs (1,2). Recommendations are given for farm owners and workers to prevent injuries from primary and secondary drivelines and other PTO-driven shafts.


  1. NIOSH. Request for assistance in preventing scalping and other severe injuries from farm machinery. Cincinnati: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, 1994; DHHS publication no. (NIOSH)94-105.

  2. CDC. Scalping incidents involving hay balers -- New York. MMWR 1992;41:489-91.

    • Single copies of this document are available without charge from the Publications Office, Division of Standards Development and Technology Transfer, NIOSH, CDC, Mailstop C-13, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998; telephone (800) 356-4674 ({513} 533-8328 for persons outside the United States); fax (513) 533-8573.

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