After three decades of declines, Indiana’s farm fatalities increased last year for the second straight year — a trend one Purdue University safety engineer calls “extremely disheartening.”
Friday’s annual report by Purdue shows that 28 Indiana residents died last year in farm accidents, up from 24 deaths in 2007. In 2006, the state had eight documented farm-related deaths, which were the fewest since Purdue began keeping records in the 1940s.
Purdue agricultural safety engineer Gail Deboy said Indiana’s farm fatalities had been on a general decline during the previous 30 years.
“This has not been the case for the last two years, and that’s extremely disheartening,” said Deboy, who coordinated the report.
Deboy said the most common mistakes in last year’s deaths included using older tractors without rollover protective structures on hillsides and rushing to complete a task without engaging safety devices.
Eight deaths in 2008 were attributed to tractor rollovers, and five deaths were caused by machinery crushings or pinnings, the report found.
Deboy said most farmers spend little time thinking about safety. He hopes the report’s release just before the fall harvest will reinforce the importance of taking precautions, particularly when farmers are in a rush.
“With all the unpredictability of livestock and the sheer size of the equipment, farming is the most dangerous industry a person can be involved in, but farmers can take simple steps that go a long way to help protect themselves,” he said.
Friday’s report compiled by Purdue’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program shows that all but two of the 28 Indiana residents who died in farm-related accidents in 2008 were men or boys.
The victims’ average age was 49.4, with the oldest an 87-year-old man who died in an Owen County tractor accident. The youngest victim was a 3-year-old boy who died in Howard County after becoming entangled in a conveyor.
The only other victim under age 18 was a 4-year-old boy who died in Montgomery County after being kicked by a horse.
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