Identifying and Correcting Hazards on Your Farm or Ranch

Tractor Safety Training

(Source: Penn State Ag Safety & Health)

Use the following format to cite this article:

Identifying and correcting hazards on your farm or ranch. (2013) Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from….


The majority of serious farm incidents involve machinery and equipment, but many hazards can be found in all areas of farm operations. Many of these incidents can be prevented through an inspection and correction of the hazard. The challenge is that most agricultural producers do not know how to properly assess and correct hazards on their farm operation.  

The Farm/Agriculture/Rural/Management-Hazard Analysis Tool (FARM-HAT) was developed by the Pennsylvania State University and is the most comprehensive on-line tool for assessing and identifying ways to correct hazards in 11 major categories including, but not limited to, farm operations, dwellings, agritourism, and tractors. FARM-HAT can be used by farmers, extension educators, insurance agents and others that are interested in improving the safety of a farm operation, equipment or rural enterprise.  

Take the inspection of your farm operation very seriously and also recruit other farm family members to participate in the process. Inspections can be done at various times of the year. Consider inspecting yours tractors and machinery over the winter so that you have time to complete repairs before the spring when you are preparing for the planting season.

In addition to FARM-HAT, other resources are available for specialized inspections including barns, machinery and tractors. Listed below are links to checklists for farm operations.

Resource Links – Pick a Site and Start Your Farm Inspection:

  1. FARM-HAT (Penn State University)
  2. Evaluate Equipment for Dangers (Iowa State University)
  3. Your Personal Farm Safety Audit (Agricultural Safety and Health Network)


Use the following format to cite this article:

Identifying and correcting hazards on your farm or ranch. (2013) Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from….



Farm/Agricultural/Rural Management Hazard Analysis Tool. (2010) Penn State Agricultural Safety and Health. Retrieved from

Folsom, R. (2009) Barn and farm inspection checklist. Virginia Cooperative Extension. Retrieved from….

Hanna, M., Schwab, C., and Miller, L. (1998) Evaluate equipment for dangers. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Retrieved from….

Tractor Safety Checklist (n.d.). Canadian Agricultural Safety Association.  Retrieved from


Reviewed and Summarized by:
Linda M. Fetzer, Pennsylvania State University –
Dennis J. Murphy, Pennsylvania State University –
Aaron M. Yoder, University of Nebraska Medical Center –

What guards need to be in place to help prevent entanglement with a tractor’s PTO driveline?

Properly positioned guards and shields that undergo regular maintenance are important safety features that help prevent entanglement with PTO drivelines. However, guards and shields alone are not enough to prevent an entanglement incident. Operator awareness and constant caution are critical to avoiding power take-off (PTO) entanglement injuries.

Driveline Components

Driveline Components. Photo Source: Virginia Tech

The major components of PTO systems. Reproduced from Grisso, B. (2009, Machinery Safety on the Farm, Virginia  Cooperative Extension

The master shield of a tractor, located at the rear of the tractor over the PTO stub shaft, is the first shield along the PTO driveline. When installed and used properly, the master shield prevents the operator from coming into contact with the universal joint of an implement driveline, as well as the stub shaft. When operating a PTO-driven implement with your tractor, you should encase the shaft in a driveline shield: a plastic or metal casing supported by bearings at each end of the shaft. The bearings allow the shield to stop spinning if someone or something comes into contact with the driveline while the shaft inside continues to spin. The ends of the driveline shield are bell-shaped to cover the universal joints of the shaft. Because universal joints are irregularly shaped and prone to snag objects, operators should never modify the bell-shaped shield in an effort to make maintenance, greasing parts, or connecting the shaft easier.

It is very important to perform a walk-around inspection of your tractor before and after your work day to make sure that all necessary guards and shields are securely in place.


Howard J. Doss, with the Michigan State University Extension, provides some keys to PTO safety. You can access this information at

Other documents on PTO safety can be found at