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Farmer falls to his death from a combine during maintenance.

Iowa Department of Public Health
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 98IA048, 1999 Feb; :1-3
A 74-year-old Iowa farmer fell to his death while getting his combine ready for an auction sale. He had retired one year ago, rented out his land, but was still living on the farm. He was now selling the remaining farm machinery and equipment. He was doing maintenance work on a 1969 model combine which was sitting in his farm yard on a concrete patch adjacent to a corn crib. He needed to add antifreeze to the radiator which is located on the right side of the engine on top of the combine. To perform this task he needed to climb on top of the combine using the stationary service ladder on the right side of the machine, then stand on the top steps of the ladder or the maintenance platform behind the engine area. There are no guardrails at this location on this machine. The events were not witnessed, but it appears the man fell from the ladder or platform and received fatal head injuries while falling to the concrete patch in the narrow space between the combine and the crib wall. There was antifreeze dripping from the top of the machine so it appears that he fell or slipped while climbing up, pouring, or climbing down after pouring antifreeze into the radiator. There were no obvious protrusions on the combine or the crib wall which could have caused the head injuries. There were some fist-sized stones on the old worn concrete surface, and they could have contributed to the head injury. This was a hot morning and the temperature may be a contributing factor also. The victim had diabetes, although it was well under control and had not previously caused dizzy spells. He was last seen approximately 10:00 a.m. by his wife and was found lying unresponsive between the combine and the wall at approximately 1:45 p.m. Recommendations based on our investigation are as follows: 1. Machinery manufacturers should provide safe service ladders with handholds for safe access to elevated service areas. 2. Machinery manufacturers should provide adequate fall protection at elevated service platforms. 3. Workers should take extra precaution while working on older machinery which lacks safety features.
Region-7; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Ladders; Farmers; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture; Machine-guarding
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-98IA048; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-708674
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Iowa Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division