Is a years-long push on farm safety education having an impact? It’s hard to say, notes Fond Du Lac County UW-Extension agent Mike Rankin, who takes a look at trends in farm fatalities in this online article. “How do you know if a person would have been injured or killed without their participation in a safety education program, be it for youth or adults? My response has always been…it certainly can’t hurt,” he says.
Looking at data collected from 1993–2009, Rankin notes:
- Farm fatalities in the state have decreased by about 0.9 fatalities per year over the 17-year period. The average number of fatalities was 36.6 in the 5-year span from 1993-1997. In the most recent 5-years, the average was 24.8 fatalities. There’s still plenty of work to be done and it’s no reason for anyone to take their foot off the safety education gas pedal, but an encouraging trend, he says.
- Patterns in the causes of deaths haven’t changed much. More than half is due to iron—either tractors (36.7%) 0r other machinery (26.3%).
- Although the focus of farm safety education is often on youth, farmers and farm workers who were 45 years or older accounted for two-thirds of the total number of farm-related fatalities since 1993. Within this group, half of the fatalities were in the 65 years or older category.