During the fall of 2006, a 25-year-old male company dump truck driver (decedent) died when he became entangled in the drive shaft of the power-take-off pump (PTO) underneath a dump truck. He and four other dump truck drivers were waiting to have their trucks filled with asphalt when one of the other drivers (Driver 1) began having difficulty with the bed of his truck raising and lowering properly. Another driver (Driver 2) attempted to assist Driver 1 with the problem, but was unsuccessful. Driver 1 decided to inform the plant manager (Owner 1) of the situation and request assistance from the company’s mechanics to fix the problem. While Driver 1 was speaking with Owner 1, the decedent (Driver 3), unbeknownst to anyone else, crawled under the dump truck of Driver 1 to see if he could fix the problem.

As Driver 3 lay under the idling truck’s spinning PTO shaft, his coat sleeve became entangled in the grease fitting on the front universal joint. He was twisted onto the shaft and under the bed of the dump truck. When Driver 1 returned to his truck to wait for assistance from the company mechanic, he found the decedent caught in the PTO drive shaft underneath the truck. Driver 1 yelled to Owner 1 in the tower to call emergency medical services to the scene. While Owner 1 called 911, he called Owner 2 to the scene. Owner 2 found the decedent entangled in the PTO shaft and with the assistance from Driver 4, they proceeded to cut his clothing to free him from the shaft. Owner 2 tried to resuscitate Driver 3 (decedent) while EMS was enroute. Emergency medical services arrived six minutes later, determined the driver was in critical condition, and notified emergency air care. As emergency medical personnel placed Driver 3 in an ambulance and transported him to a nearby field where the air ambulance waited, he died. Air transport was cancelled and the local coroner was contacted who arrived and declared Driver 3 dead at the scene.

To prevent future occurrences of similar incidents, the following recommendations have been made:

Recommendation No. 1: Ensure that trucks are turned in the “off” position and keys removed, prior to driver exiting and leaving the motor vehicle unattended.

Recommendation No. 2: Employers should provide comprehensive safety training for all newly hired personnel including temporary and substitute drivers before they are allowed to work in the field.

Recommendation No. 3: Loose clothing should not be worn while repairing machinery.

Recommendation No. 4: Employers should require that operators or other competent persons perform daily safety checks on the mobile equipment prior to operating them using an expanded Department of Transportation Inspection form.

Recommendation No. 5: Educate employees about the hazards of PTO’s and ensure they do not crawl under, on, or over unguarded power take-off (PTO) drivelines while the PTO is operating.

Recommendation No. 6: Consideration should be given to engineering machine guards for truck power take-off; equipment should be designed or retrofitted to shield any open, unguarded power take-off drivelines.

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Notes/Citation Information

A summary of this case is available as the additional file listed below.

06KY079_Summary.pdf (34 kB)
Case Summary