On April 13th, 2009, former All-Star pitcher Mark Fidrych suffocated after his clothes became entangled with a spinning part on the truck he was working on, Massachusetts authorities said Thursday. The state medical examiner’s office ruled the death an accident, according to a release from the Worcester District Attorney’s office. A friend found Fidrych, 54, beneath a 10-wheel dump truck on Monday at his Northborough farm. “He appeared to have been working on the truck when his clothes became tangled in the truck’s power takeoff shaft,” District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said in a statement. A power takeoff shaft is a driveshaft that spins at high speed and can be used to power another piece of equipment.
A power take-off (PTO) is a splinted driveshaft, usually on a tractor or truck, which can be used to provide power to an attachment or separate machine. It is designed to be easily connected and disconnected. The power take-off allows implements to draw energy from the tractor’s engine. Semi-permanently mounted power take-offs can also be found on industrial and marine engines.
The PTO and its associated shafts and universal joints are reportedly a common cause of incidents and injury in farming and industry. When a piece of clothing, which can be as small as a single thread, touches a spinning part it can be pulled around the part. The clothing and the person wearing it are pulled into the shaft often resulting in loss of limb or death. Some implements do use plastic guards to try to keep a person from becoming entangled in a PTO shaft, but even with guards people need to exercise caution around PTO shafts when they are plugged into a tractor or truck . In some countries it is illegal to operate a PTO without the shaft guard correctly fastened.
Many tragic deaths and serious injuries could be avoided if corporations would be more attentive to preventive engineering and consumer education. Too often Manufacturers put their money into self-serving public relations campaigns, rather than up-front protection of the consumers who use their products.
If you or a family member have suffered significant personal injuries as the result of a defective product, contact the law office of Swartz & Swartz, P.C., one of the most successful product liability firms in the country. Call (617) 742-1900 in the Boston area, or for clients in greater Massachusetts, New England, or other states across the U.S., call toll-free at 1-800-545-3732.