Educate your kids about the dangers of PTOs

Students attending Farm Safety Day at Calgary’s Stampede Park last summer were given a dramatic demonstration of the dangers of PTOs. 
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The Alberta Farm Safety Program has created a new Power Take Off (PTO) Display that can be borrowed for farm safety or other events.

The resource uses different methods — including a “hands-on simulated entanglement scenario” — to educate children and youth about the dangers of rotating PTO shafts, said provincial farm safety youth co-ordinator Janice Donkers.

“It has three educational components that provide an excellent overview of the importance of safety around PTOs: an entanglement demonstration, a reaction time activity, and discussion points for conversations about the risks and safety measures,” she said.

A PTO shaft on a tractor rotates at 540 or 1,000 revolutions per minute, and is especially dangerous if shields or guards have been removed, altered, or damaged. Typical injuries involving PTOs include amputations, severe cuts, multiple breaks, or spine and neck injuries.

“It’s physically impossible for a person to react fast enough to avoid injury or death from contact with a rotating PTO,” said Donkers. “With an average reaction time of less than a second, a person caught in a PTO spinning at 1,000 r.p.m. would be wrapped around the PTO shaft six times before they knew what was happening.”

In addition to have properly secured guards and shields, safety measures include wearing close-fitting clothes, removing drawstrings from sweatshirts and jackets, and tying up long hair. PTOs should only be engaged and disengaged from the tractor seat (not when standing behind or beside the tractor) and under no circumstances should anyone step over a PTO. Always walk around. Young children should have a safe play area with a fence or some other physical boundary.

To borrow the PTO Display at no cost or to obtain other educational resources, displays and publications, email [email protected] The Alberta Farm Safety Program website can be found by going to and searching for ‘farm safety.’

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