A Purdue University farm safety specialist says Indiana has hit a wall in reducing farm-related deaths.
A report released by Purdue University counted at least 23 farming deaths in 2010, three more than the previous year. It’s also the fourth straight year with at least 20 deaths. And Purdue professor Bill Field says the agricultural industry is having trouble breaking through that plateau.
“We’re going to have to change the way we think,” he said, “in order to address these last 20 to 25 cases that occur each year.”
Field says the primary factor in the deaths is the absence of rollover protective structures, or ROPs, on tractors…particularly old tractors, which are still in great use on smaller farms.
“They never were designed to be equipped with the ROPs,” he said, “they’re high center-of-gravity tractors, they’re less stable and yet farmers are just reluctant to take something that works well and put it out to pasture or take it to the scrap yard.”
Field says he thinks government regulation is a non-starter because most farmers push back against new regulations. He says reducing the number of deaths will ultimately come down to a change in culture among farmers.