A study of agricultural machine related deaths was conducted. Death certificate data in the United States Traumatic Occupational Fatality (NTOF) database were searched to identify all deaths from farm machinery occurring during the period 1980 through 1985. A total of 2216 agricultural machinery deaths were identified. This yielded an average incidence rate of 369 deaths per year. The number of agricultural machinery related deaths was more than twice that of the second ranking category, deaths related to lifting machines, in the NTOF database. Tractors were responsible for the largest number of deaths, 1523, which amounted to 69% of the total. Augers and elevators, combines, hay balers, brush hogs and mowers, loaders and skidders, corn pickers, 27 other types of machines, and unspecified machines accounted for 61, 53, 42, 40, 37, 26, 108, and 326 deaths, respectively. Over half of the tractor related deaths resulted from overturns. Approximately 62% of the tractor related deaths occurred to persons over 50 years old while persons over the age of 60 accounted for 44% of the tractor deaths. The authors conclude that tractor overturns account for the largest proportion of farm machinery related deaths. Although rollover protective structures have been developed for tractors, greater efforts must be exerted to increase their use.
John Etherton, DSR/NIOSH, 944 Chestnut Ridge Road, Morgantown, WV 26505