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Indiana farm fatality summary stresses importance of farm safety

Purdue University’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program released the annual Indiana Farm Fatality Summary with Historical Overview, coinciding with National Farm Safety and Health Week.

The annual observance has been the third week of September since 1944. The program reported 25 work-related on-farm deaths in the state of Indiana in 2020, including one grain entrapment, nine involving tractors and four involving off-road or utility terrain vehicles.

Farm fatalities for the past 50 years continue to trend lower, likely reflecting safer machinery and work practices while also corresponding with a decline in the number of farmers. Despite this encouraging trend, report members urge agriculture workers to remain diligent and follow safety procedures. No Indiana agency documents farm-related nonfatal injuries, but prior research has indicated that approximately one in nine Indiana farms has a farm-work-related injury incident that requires medical attention each year.

Documented incidents involving those age 60 or older account for nearly half of all cases in the past five years, including over half of the victims in 2020.

“Historically, farmers over the age of 60, including many who work only part time, have accounted for a disproportionate number of farm-related injuries. Recent spikes in frequencies of fatalities over the past 10 years makes this population of older farmers a special concern,” the report states.

Bill Field, Purdue agriculture and biological engineering professor and Extension safety specialist, has summarized over 1,100 farm fatalities during his career.

“This annual summary is a somber reminder that our food can come at a cost of lives, health and well-being for farm families,” Field said.

As Hoosier farmers begin to harvest, program members remind farmers to keep safety a top priority. Agriculture safety guides, disaster preparedness resources and the Indiana Farm Fatality Summary can be found online.

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