Summary of farm fatalities shows positive trends
WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue University’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program has released the annual summary of farm fatalities in Indiana with a historical overview, coinciding with National Farm Safety and Health Week . The annual celebration has been held the third week of September since 1944.
The program reported 20 farm work-related fatalities in the state of Indiana in 2021. Data shows that tractors are the most common agent of farm-related fatalities, accounting for up to 52% of fatalities. documented cases over the past 10 years, with six cases reported in 2021. Other causes included grain entrapment, equipment crushes and entanglements, and fume asphyxiation in confined spaces.
This shows a decrease from the 25 cases identified in 2020 and marks the fewest cases reported in the past eight years. Farm fatalities over the past 50 years continue to decline, likely reflecting safer machinery and work practices while also corresponding to a decline in the number of farmers.
Despite this positive trend, program members are urging farm workers to remain diligent and follow safety protocols. No agency in Indiana requires official documentation of farm-related injuries or fatalities, but previous Purdue research has indicated that approximately 1 in 9 farms in Indiana experience an injury incident each year. agricultural work that requires medical care.
Documented incidents involving people aged 60 or over account for almost half of all cases over the past five years, including 40% in 2021.
“Historically, farmers over the age of 60, many of whom work only part-time, have been responsible for a disproportionate number of agriculture-related injuries. Recent spikes in death rates over the past 10 years make this population of older farmers of particular concern,” the report states.
Males account for most fatalities, with only one female fatality recorded in 2021. One victim was a child, but historical data shows an overall decline in the frequency of agriculture-related fatalities involving children and youth.
Ed Sheldon, co-author of the report and Purdue Farm Safety Specialist, said, “It is encouraging to see that the average number of annual agriculture-related fatalities continues to decline. That said, in 2021, at least 20 Indiana families and communities have felt the devastating impact of losing one of their own to a farmwork-related death.
“It’s a very grim reminder that we should never become complacent in our efforts to make our farms safer places to live and work.”
Farm safety guides, disaster preparedness resources and the Indiana Farm Death Summary are available online.