PTO safety and maintenance tips

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PTO shaft on a tractor PTO shaft on a tractor

Power take-off (PTO) shafts have been involved in a large number of serious and disabling entanglement accidents, many resulting in death, so the Queensland Government has put together these handy safety and maintenance tips.

First off, it recommends the purchase of a variety of guards, shields and couplings designed to try to eliminate or minimise the risk of entanglement. It is important that these are fitted and maintained in good working condition to avoid injury to workers and bystanders.

Concerns that PTO shaft guards are difficult to maintain and deteriorate after prolonged exposure to ultra violet light can be overcome by:

  • Removing the shaft from the machine when not in use and storing it undercover
  • Pulling the shaft apart and oiling and greasing the slide
  • Ensuring that the power input coupling (PIC) guards (the bell shaped piece guarding the universal joints) are not damaged or cut away for any reason
  • Purchasing shaft guards that are made from black UV resistant plastic
  • Regularly releasing the PIC guard clips and freeing them from dust, grease and other materials so that they can be released and moved aside to allow adequate greasing of the shaft's moving parts.

Safe work procedures should always be followed when working around energised or powered-up machinery, for example:

  • Don’t get out of the tractor cab until the PTO has been disengaged and the machine's rotating parts have come to a complete stop. (Preferably switch off the tractor's engine before getting down from the driver's seat.)
  • Don’t wear loose clothing around machinery.
  • Employers need to ensure that a task risk analysis is undertaken and workers adequately instructed in the safe operating procedures for the task to be performed and the plant to be used.

More agriculture safety tips are available from the Queensland Government's safety and compensation services website:


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