Shortcuts are Short-Sighted!

  • Lehtola, Carol;
  • Brown, Charles

Stepping over a power take-off instead of walking around a tractor might seem like a time-saving shortcut, but it exposes you to a much greater risk of injury or death.

Often, there's a "recommended safe way" of doing a task and a way that seems quicker but is more hazardous. Many people use the more dangerous shortcut to save time.

However, timed studies show that the time invested in doing a task safely is quite insignificant, especially when compared to the costs of injuries or possible death that could result from the extra hazards involved in the shortcut.

Taking a few seconds to do a task safely may seem inconvenient at the time, but Table 1 shows how little time it takes. Remember that every time you take a shortcut, you are rolling the dice for injury or death.

For some specific examples of the small amount of time it takes to be safe, see Table 2. To put these times in perspective, the total time invested for 100 repetitions of the task was calculated.

Table 1.

Time Invested
Total Time for 100 Repetitions
3 seconds
5 minutes
5 seconds
10 minutes
10 seconds
17 minutes

Table 2.
Time Invested
100 Repetitions
Walking down steps instead of jumping off combine 7 seconds 12 minutes
Walking around an auger instead of stepping over it 2 seconds 3 1/2 minutes
Engaging cylinder locks on combine when working near or under head 30 seconds 50 minutes
Getting off mower to pick up something instead of leaning over to pick it up as you drive by 20 seconds 33 minutes
Remember: The time you invest in performing a task safely is minimal when you compare it to the high financial and emotional costs associated with death, injury and disability.


Safety is the bottom line

For More Information

For more information about tractor safety, visit the Florida AgSafe Network Web site:

The following publications are available at your county Extension office and at the EDIS Web site, <>. (IFAS Publication Numbers are in parentheses after the titles. The second set of parentheses contains the Web address at which the publication can be viewed.)

Publication #: AE306

1. This document is AE306 , one of a series of the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Supported in part by the NIOSH Deep-South Center for Occupational Health and Safety, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida. First published September 2001. Please visit the EDIS Web site at

2. Carol J. Lehtola, assistant professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and Extension Agricultural Safety Specialist, and Charles M. Brown, Assistant Coordinator for Agricultural Safety and Health, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences/University of Florida/Christine Taylor Waddill, Dean.

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