Spotlight on PTO safety this spring

Monday, 14 April, 2014

This week the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is highlighting the importance of PTO safety for local farmers.

Supported by the Farm Safety Partnership, the safety drive, which includes a series of radio adverts, will target the dangers of unguarded or poorly guarded power take-off shafts (PTOs). 

The aim of the initiative is to promote the safety information and advice available to farmers so they can take practical steps to reduce the risks around PTO guarding. It will be backed by a programme of safety visits by HSENI officers which will start on 28 April 2014.

The visits are geared specifically to assist in the SAFE use of equipment, in particular PTOs. HSENI officers will be on hand to identify any potential risks concerning PTO guards and will provide practical advice to farmers on how to protect themselves, and others.

Calling on farmers to support the safety drive, Chairman of the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland George Lucas said:

“Every day in Northern Ireland farmers unnecessarily risk life and limb by working with unsafe equipment, particularly unguarded or poorly guarded PTO shafts. This week provides farmers with a great opportunity to put in place sensible, effective measures to reduce the dangers around PTOs. On behalf of the Farm Safety Partnership I urge the farming community to take advantage of this opportunity - to ask us questions and to find out the information needed to put safety first and to take important steps to safer farms.”

Head of HSENI’s farm safety team, Malcolm Downey added:

“PTO shafts are dangerous - they can rip off a limb or kill in seconds. If something should go wrong there is little or no time to react, but HSENI officers continue to find many unguarded PTO shafts when visiting local farms - this is not acceptable. It’s important that before they start the job, farmers stop and think, is the PTO guard there, and is it in good working condition?”

UFU President Harry Sinclair commented;

“Unguarded PTO shafts remain a common issue on farms which is obviously extremely concerning given the real and serious danger this poses. I would encourage farmers to check that all PTOs on their farms are safe to use and protected by high quality PTO guards. We believe that farm safety involves everyone connected to the farming industry and we all need to play our part if we want to put a stop to the number of deaths and accidents happening on farms.”

The UFU also hopes that the third round of farm safety advisory visits will again be welcomed by everyone in the farming community.  Farmers have responded positively to the advisory nature of previous visits in helping to improve safety on their farms and would encourage farmers who receive a visit to actively and positively engage with HSENI with the aim of reducing, and hopefully bringing a halt to work-related deaths on our farms.

While the safety visits will be advisory in nature, HSENI officers will have no option but to take enforcement action should they observe unguarded or poorly guarded PTOs that pose an immediate danger and prohibition notices will be served in the case of imminent risk. 

Free advice on choosing a PTO guard and tips for keeping a PTO guard and shaft in good condition are available for farmers from HSENI. Hard copies of the latest leaflet on PTO safety are available for free by calling HSENI on: 0800 0320 121. Or, you can download a copy from the Stay Farm Safe website: