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Injury Statistics Show Incline
October 1, 2009

With the recent release of fatal work injury statistics showing an upward spiral in the farming industry, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) encourages safety, health and environmental professionals to become active in assisting agricultural producers and businesses in their area to take steps to prevent deadly agricultural injuries and illnesses.

Workplace fatalities in the farming industry rose by 11 percent in 2008 to a total of 651 deaths in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industries in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The increase was led by worker deaths in crop production, which rose 18 percent in 2008. Most farm-related traumatic injuries are caused by machinery, with tractor accidents next — accounting for a high rate of fatalities. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), from 1992 to 2007 more than 8,000 farm workers died from work-related injuries in the U.S. Tractor overturn deaths accounted for an average of 96 deaths annually.

In addition, about 243 agricultural workers suffer lost work-time injuries every day, and about five percent of these injuries result in permanent impairment. Agriculture is also one of the most dangerous industries for young workers and it is one of the few industries where families are at risk of fatalities or injuries as they often share the work and live on the farm.

As most farms do not fall under the auspices of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules and regulations, ASSE urges farmers to train all workers including young farmers well in all aspects of farming, including safety. Children are at special risk from farm-related accidents. Most of the 100 plus deaths among children on farms result from being innocent bystanders or passengers on farm equipment. Surveys indicate that many farm children are working in dangerous environments by the age of 10. Young farmers can enroll in a local farm safety camp, often sponsored by the local County Extension Service, a university, or Farm Bureau, which helps them recognize and learn how to address on-the-job hazards.

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