Her hair got caught in the rotating driveshaft. In a split second, her whole scalp, from the back of her neck to the eyebrow line, was torn away. When she came to, she was already in the operating room. The injuries she sustained left her permanently disfigured, despite extensive skin grafting.
This is another true, sad account of a farm accident which happened in July 1991 taken from the records of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. The victim was baling hay on a windy day. She reportedly left the engine idle and did not disengage the PTO as she went to make adjustments on the back of the baler. Although the secondary driveline that powered the bale thrower was shielded by an inverted U-shaped guard, this still left the bottom of the driveline unguarded. he woman's hair got caught as she was adjusting the tension levers on the baler.
Scalping is just one among many forms of injury that can result from entanglement with PTO assemblies (or other moving parts of farm machinery); amputated hands or arms, broken necks, shoulders or spines, and even death are not uncommon. PTOs drive power from the tractor to any attached implement- be it a baler, feed auger, discs, etc. They are particularly potentially dangerous, because they rotate as fast as 540 to 1,000 rpm. The movement so extremely fast that there is no time to disentangle one's hair, clothing, or limb once it gets caught.
By following a number of precautionary measures, accidents like these are entirely avoidable. You must always remember the simple guidelines below whenever you are working around machinery.
Wear snug-fitting clothes. Tie long hair in a tight bun, or tuck it under your hat or cap. Remove jewelry like necklaces, bracelets, or a loose watch that can get caught.
Check the machinery thoroughly at the beginning of the day and correct any malfunctions before using it.
Make sure that the necessary guards and shields of moving parts are in place. These shields and guards should meet the standards set by OSHA. If the equipment was manufactured before the standards were in place, your employer should have it retrofitted with the proper safety shields. Likewise, worn and damaged shields should be promptly replaced.
If any malfunction occurs while you are working, stop the machine. Disengage the PTO and shut off the engine.
Remember to replace shields and guards after making the needed repairs or adjustments.
When a piece of equipment malfunctions, some operators leave the engine idling or keep the PTO engaged, believing that this facilitates adjustment. Others simply do it to "save time". If you are the type who does the latter, ask yourself: what is more important- saving time, or saving your life? Remember: entanglements happen as a result of contact with moving parts of machinery. Always take the time to shut the machine off and wait until the moving part(s) you need to work on has come to a complete stop before even getting near it!
This radio public service announcement was produced by the Agricultural Health and Safety Center, Applied Behavioral Sciences of the University of California at Davis. For further information contact Jenny Rodriguez, UCCE, Ag. Bldg., County Civic Center, Visalia, CA 93291-4584, (209) 733-6491.
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More