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Farm worker dies after becoming entangled in a power-take-off shaft.

Minnesota Department of Health
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 03MN008, 2003 Jul; :1-4
A 50-year-old male farm worker (victim) died after he became entangled in a power-take-off (PTO) shaft. He was using a tractor and a trailer-type mixer wagon to mix feed for dairy cows. The tractor was equipped with a cab that had a hinged rear window that when open, provided an opening along the bottom edge of the window. The window was open at the time of the incident. The mixer wagon was designed to be hooked to the drawbar of a tractor and operated via the tractor's PTO and hydraulic systems. The design enabled a worker to completely operate and unload the wagon while seated in the tractor seat. The wagon's PTO shaft was fitted with a tubular safety shield. At the front of the wagon was a short master shield fastened to the wagon. Although the PTO shaft was entirely enclosed in a tubular safety shield and the short master shield covered the end of the shaft, a small gap existed between the two safety shields. The wagon was equipped with a hydraulically controlled discharge chute located at the wagon's left front corner to unload it. The victim had mixed several loads of feed on the day of the incident. After filling the mixer wagon, the victim engaged the tractor's PTO to begin mixing the feed while he drove the tractor to a dairy barn equipped with several feed conveyors to unloaded the wagon. After stopping the tractor and wagon near a conveyor, he got off the tractor and started the barn conveyor. After starting the conveyor, he probably reentered the tractor cab and started the wagon's discharge augers but then exited the cab again. While the wagon emptied, he entered the area between the rear of the tractor and the front of the wagon. He may have stepped on the tractor drawbar and reached through the cab's open rear window to reach the hydraulic controls and either increase or decrease the flow of feed from the wagon. While doing so, he apparently fell backward and his clothing became entangled in the end of the PTO shaft near the front of the wagon. Another worker became concerned when the tractor and wagon remained parked longer than normal. He walked to the scene and found the victim entangled in the PTO shaft which had broken. He ran from the scene and notified other workers who placed a call to emergency personnel. The workers returned to the scene, freed the victim and laid him on the ground. Rescue personnel arrived shortly after being notified and pronounced him dead at the scene. MN FACE investigators concluded that, in order to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, the following guidelines should be followed: 1. Machinery should only be operated or adjusted when the operator is seated in the operator's seat; 2. Manufacturers should design safety shields that totally enclose moving components that may be hazardous, and; 3. Operators should not wear loose-fitting clothing near operating machines.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Agricultural-workers; Agricultural-industry; Tractors; Farmers; Equipment-operators; Clothing; Machine-operation; Machine-operators; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-processes; Agriculture
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-03MN008; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-507283
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Minnesota Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division