Farm Fatality Summary brings safety to the forefront

June 9, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The 2009 Purdue University Indiana Farm Fatality Summary is now available, and with it come some alarming statistics about the dangers of the farming industry, said Purdue University farm safety specialist Gail Deboy.

Each year in farming communities nationwide, hundreds of farmers die or suffer serious injuries in farm accidents. According to the National Safety Council, at a rate of 31.6 deaths per 100,000 farm workers nationwide, the farming industry experiences nearly 10 times the fatalities of other industries. The national average for non-farm industries is 3.5 deaths for every 100,000 workers.

"It boggles my mind just how dangerous this industry really is," Deboy said. "We publish this summary each year to make more people aware of the number of farm injuries and fatalities so they won't take safety for granted."

In 2009, 20 people died on Indiana farms - nine of which Deboy said would still be alive had their tractors had rollover protective structures.

"Tractors are involved in more than 50 percent of all farm fatalities," he said. "Some of those accidents are rollovers, sometimes the farmer may fall off the tractor and be run over by the trailing implement, and others may involve a farmer being caught in the power takeoff shaft."

Grain entrapments have been a hot issue in the last few months because of the dangers presented by moldy corn in storage bins. In Indiana in 2009, five workers at commercial grain facilities fell victim to grain entrapments. Only one of those workers survived.

But it's not always just the farm workers themselves who are at risk. Three Indiana children under the age of 10 died in the last year from accidents involving farm trucks and skid loaders.

Deboy said safety precautions farmers should take include:

* When mowing or working on slopes, always make sure equipment has a rollover protective structure in place and fasten the seatbelt.

* Keep all safety shields in place surrounding power takeoff shafts.

* Never enter a grain bin with an unloading auger running.

* Keep children away from farm work.

* When working in the shop, never block up equipment with concrete blocks. Always use hardwood blocks or special jack stands.

The full Farm Fatality Summary is available at http://www.farmsafety.org 

Writer: Jennifer Stewart, 765-494-6682, jsstewar@purdue.edu

Source: Gail Deboy, 765-496-2377, deboy@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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