Indiana farm fatalities up for the second consecutive year


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The 2008 Indiana Farm Fatality Report, compiled by Purdue University’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program, documents 28 agricultural-related fatalities in 2008, up from 24 in 2007.

Report online

Gail Deboy, Purdue agricultural safety engineer and report coordinator, and Bill Field of Purdue’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering collected farm accident data and compiled the report, which is available at

The average age for farm work-related fatality victims in 2008 was 49.4, while the average age for the past 10 years was 52.6.

The report documents two fatalities of males under the age of 18; their ages were 3 and 4. The two incidents involving children accounted for 7.1 percent of the total number of fatalities reported in 2008.

Only one or two fatalities of children or adolescents under the age of 18 had been reported annually over the last 10 years, with the exception of 2000 when seven such fatalities were reported.

Victims 60 and older accounted for 39 percent of all documented cases, and that is consistent with a continuing trend of older individuals being involved in a disproportionate number of fatal incidents.

In the past, Howard and Fayette counties documented no fatalities in the previous 30 years, Deboy said. Fayette is now the only county not to have a recorded fatality.

The three Indiana counties with the most recorded fatalities during the last 30 years include Elkhart, LaGrange and Greene counties, which all have a large Amish population, Deboy said.

This year, LaGrange and Greene counties each reported one fatality.

“One thing not in the report is that in 2008 five of the 28 fatalities were caused by hydraulic failure or operator error in operating hydraulics,” Deboy said.

Most common mistakes

The most common mistakes resulting in farm-related fatalities include using older tractors without rollover protective structures on hillsides and being in too much of a hurry and not using safety devices or switches on equipment.

Eight deaths in 2008 were attributed to tractor rollovers, and five deaths were caused by machinery crushings or pinnings, according to the report.

In the U.S., there are 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers in all industries, according to statistics from the National Safety Council. There are 31.6 fatalities per 100,000 workers in agricultural production.

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