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Tractor PTOs & Drivelines

​This Tailgate Talk is part of the NLTAPA collection.

Power take-offs (PTOs) are fast-revolving shafts used to power auxiliary equipment on tractors. PTOs make for an entanglement hazard. The hazard can be controlled with a properly-installed shield or guard which provides a barrier between the revolving shaft and the operator. Here are some tips for working around PTOs and drivelines:


  • Always disengage the PTO, turn off the tractor, and remove the keys before leaving the tractor seat and approaching the driveline to perform maintenance or make adjustments.


  • Don't perform maintenance or make adjustments until the driveline and attached machinery have stopped moving completely.


  • Never step over or reach under a moving power take-off shaft or driveline, even one that is guarded. Wait until the shaft has stopped rotating.


  • Make sure PTOs are shielded with an enclosing type guard. Some older types of equipment may have a U-shaped tunnel type guard. This type of guard is ineffective and dangerous. U-shaped guards should be replaced with upgraded guards as recommended by the manufacturer.



Guards should meet these specifications:


  • Guards must prevent entry into the point of operation by hands or fingers reaching through, over, under, or around the guard.


  • Guards must not create additional hazards such as sharp edges or protruding parts. Guards must not create pinch points between the guard and moving machine parts. The possibility of guard misuse or removal must be minimized through the use of guards that the operator cannot remove or bypass easily.


  • Guards must not interfere with the inspection, servicing, or cleaning of the machine.


  • Maintain guards in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.



Here are some personal and operating safety tips:


  • Don't wear loose-fitting clothing or dangling jewelry when working around PTOs. Tie back long hair to prevent entanglement and scalping. Shirts should be tucked in, jackets zipped, and sleeves buttoned.


  • Keep your head and other body parts away from an operating PTO. Even short and secured hair can become entangled in a driveline.


  • Make sure the hitching position of the equipment to the PTO is at the proper height.


  • Check the operator's manual for details.


  • Don't attach equipment to the PTO unless is it rated for the RPM of the PTO.