On May 23, 2003, a 13-year-old farm youth was killed when he became entangled in an unguarded rotating power take-off (PTO) shaft at the rear of his narrow front Farmall Model M tractor. (See Figure 1) The youth and his teenage cousin were raking hay in a field that had been cut a few days prior on an adjoining property. Both were driving narrow front Farmall Model M tractors equipped with a non-PTO powered hay rake designed for attachment to the tractor's drawbar. Neither tractor had a PTO master shield installed. The victim's tractor was ahead of his cousin's tractor and as he had already finished raking, had driven the tractor up near the barn. The victim's tractor had an owner-modified extension lever to activate the PTO located at the right side of the operator. This extension lever was a one-half inch (approx.) diameter steel rod with an aluminum pop can placed over the end that allowed the operator to activate the PTO lever located to his left behind the seat without turning around in his seat. The PTO shaft on the victim's tractor had a PTO extension attachment secured by an unshielded 5/16-inch bolt that protruded approximately 1-1/4 inches beyond the shaft. Another individual installing a fence nearby saw the victim dismount from the tractor. It is unknown if the victim had disengaged the PTO before he dismounted, how the victim dismounted the tractor, and when the extension's bolt caught the right arm of victim's sweatshirt. After his cousin finished his raking, he pulled up behind the victim's tractor. He walked to the victim's tractor, saw the victim, turned off the tractor, and ran to the property owner's house to notify him. The individual installing the fence saw the cousin run to the property owner's house and went to the victim's tractor. Seeing the victim, he called 911. Emergency personnel arrived and the youth was declared dead at the scene. Recommendations: 1. All rotating shafts, including tractor stub shafts, should be covered by shields/guards in good condition when the tractor is operated. 2. Tractor operators should always disengage the PTO, shut off the engine, and if applicable, remove the key before getting off of the tractor. 3. Operators should not wear loose-fitting or frayed clothing that can get caught in machinery. Also, jackets and sweatshirts with draw-strings can get caught on rotating shafts.
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