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Farm Fatalities Rise To Highest Number In Four Years

An annual report shows 26 people died on Indiana farms in 2012, up from 16 deaths in 2011.

tractor in French Lick, Indiana

Photo: Paul (flickr)

Farmers in French Lick, Indiana, harvest corn. Large farm equipment and, in particular, tractors are the leading cause of farm fatalities.

The number of deaths on Indiana farms rose by nearly two-thirds in 2012, according to an annual report released by Purdue University.

The report says 26 people died on Indiana farms in 2012, which is the highest its been since 2008.

According to the Indiana Farm Fatality Summary, that is up from 16 fatalities in the previous year. The report’s authors characterized it as a “dramatic reversal in the downward trend in the frequency of fatalities over the past four years.”

Indiana Department of Labor spokesperson Chetrise Mosley says the accident numbers serve as reminders of how important it is to consider workplace safety.

“In addition to hopefully minimizing loss of life and minimizing injuries in the workplace, there are other things to be gained from it,” she says. “For example, lower workman’s compensation costs, fewer lost work days, higher employee morale, less employee turnover.”

Tractors accounted for nearly half of last year’s fatalities, which is on par with the frequency of tractor deaths in the last 20 years.

Some good news: the report found that the number of children aged 18 and younger dying in agricultural workplaces has been decreasing. That’s likely because agricultural equipment has become more complex to operate and because parents’ expectations for children to help out on the farm are changing.

Historically, farm fatality numbers have been higher in counties with significant Amish populations. The report attributes this to accidents involving horse-drawn machinery and more labor-intensive farming practices.

Roughly 143,000 people work on farms in Indiana. 

Jashin Lin

Jashin Lin is a reporter/videographer for WFIU and WTIU news. She has previously worked as a videographer/web producer for MO.gov and as a reporter/videographer for the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She studied multimedia journalism and information technology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. You can follow her on Twitter @jashinlin.

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