Farmsafe Australia is stressing the significance of being extremely vigilant 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. And while PTO-driven equipment is essential, they can pose significant entanglement risks if not handled with caution.
Farmsafe Australia is using farm safety week to get the message to farmers that, in light of 17 deaths on farms so far this year - along with 77 non-fatal injuries - now is the time to take safety seriously.
In 2022, 55 farmers died on farms due to an accident or other incident; 64 per cent of those deaths were linked to farm vehicles or mobile farm machinery.
Farmsafe Australia secretary Kerri-Lynn Peachey said there has been a decrease in amputations and fatalities relating to entanglement due to the rise in machinery guarding and automatic shut-off innovation.
"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," Ms Peachey said.
According to AgHealth Australia the average cost of an on-farm fatality is over $1.95m, 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.
Farmsafe Australia wants farmers to follow crucial 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 (PPE): 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.
Paul Sloman from Cotton Australia, a long-time member of Farmsafe Australia, 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 well-being of farmers and farm workers," Mr Sloman said.
Farmsafe Australia Chair, Felicity Richards, said tragedies can be avoided by being incredibly vigilant and aware of the dangers that make farming the most dangerous industry in Australia.
"By adopting these safety measures and fostering a culture of awareness, we can prevent tragedy and ensure the well-being of our future farming generations," Ms Richards said.