Don’t let work cost an arm or a leg

Minimise risks associated with PTO shafts and farm machinery implements this grains harvest and hay making season. Photo by Holly Curtis

Farmsafe Australia, the national advocate for farm safety, is highlighting the importance of prioritising safety when working around power take-off (PTO) shafts and farm machinery implements.

PTO shafts transfer power from tractors to various implements such as mowers, balers and augers. PTO-driven equipment is essential in agricultural operations but can pose significant entanglement risks if not handled with caution.

By raising awareness and implementing proper safety measures, farmers and farm workers can prevent injuries and fatalities.

Farmsafe Australia secretary Kerri-Lynn Peachey said there had been an overall decline in injuries and fatalities relating to catch hazards.

“We’ve seen a significant decrease in amputations and fatalities relating to entanglement due to the rise in machinery guarding and automatic shut-off innovation,” she said.

“Unfortunately, when an incident does occur, the consequences are usually severe to catastrophic. It is critical that farmers remember to replace broken guards and only attempt maintenance when machinery is fully shut off and stationary.”

AgHealth Australia reported the average cost of an on-farm fatality is more than $1.95 million, making it an economic as well as ethical imperative to ensure guards are repaired and replaced as required and that all machinery is properly and regularly maintained.

In addition, Farmsafe Australia is emphasising the following safety information to minimise risks associated with PTO shafts and farm machinery implements:

  • Guard PTO shafts: Ensure that all PTO shafts are properly guarded to prevent contact with moving parts. Regularly inspect and maintain the guards to ensure their integrity and effectiveness. Never operate PTO-driven equipment without the necessary protective guards in place.
  • Properly maintain machinery implements: Regularly inspect machinery implements for any damage, wear or loose components that could pose a safety hazard. Repair or replace damaged parts promptly and ensure proper alignment and balance of the implement in line with manufacturer guidelines for safe operation.
  • Follow safe operating procedures: Train all operators on the safe operation of machinery and implement attachments. Emphasise the importance of maintaining a safe distance from rotating parts and never reaching into or over a moving PTO shaft or implement.
  • Engage safety features: Familiarise yourself and all workers/contractors with the safety features of the equipment they are using. Implement devices such as master shields, interlocking guards and electronic or mechanical shut-off systems to prevent accidental activation or contact with dangerous components. Never circumvent safety mechanisms.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment: Always wear PPE, including sturdy work boots, close-fitting clothing, and eye and hearing protection when operating or working near PTO-driven equipment. Avoid loose clothing or accessories that could get caught in moving parts.

Farmsafe Australia member Paul Sloman said safety should be the top priority when working around PTO shafts and farm machinery implements.

“By implementing proper guarding, conducting regular maintenance and following safe operating procedures, we can prevent entanglement and protect the wellbeing of farmers and farm workers,” he said.

For more information on PTO safety, farm machinery safety information and educational resources, visit: