An online tool is helping researchers see trends in agriculture-related injuries and offer safety solutions for farm families.
Aginjurynews.org data indicates that children ages 6 and younger suffer a disproportionately high number of fatal injuries in farm-related incidents. The results are consistent with previous studies: Little children can get into trouble and get injured very easily.
Largest public database of ag injury and fatality reports
AgInjuryNews.org is an interactive web-based system that anyone can use to search the largest database of publicly available agricultural injury and fatality reports. The reports include incidents involving adults as well as children.
Data are mined primarily from news media reports. Aginjurynews.org uses web-crawling software to search for articles. Staff members sift through the results to find those related to agriculture, commercial fishing and forestry injuries, then code and load the cases into the database. It offers a near real-time snapshot of the nature of incidents across the U.S. and Canada.
Information contained in the database can uncover trends and point to potential solutions.
Report reveals young children at risk on farms
Bryan Weichelt, an associate research scientist with the National Farm Medicine Center, led a team of researchers from across the nation, which used two years’ worth of data (2015-2017) to look at 255 incidents involving 348 youth injuries. They published their results in the peer-reviewed Journal of Agromedicine.
They found a disproportionate number of children ages 6 and younger died from farm injuries than victims in other age groups.
The team also found that occupational and non-occupational injuries resulted in similar injury severities.
The data also revealed that unsupervised children, especially youth ages 0 to 6 years, who were playing near vehicles, machinery, animals or farm structures faced an increased risk of injury.
In agriculture, the workplace often overlaps with the home according to Scott Heiberger, communications manager for the National Farm Medicine Center and current president of the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health. In fact, of children 10 and younger who are injured on farms, more than half are not working at the time of the injury.
Safety solutions designed for parents
A child dies in an agriculture-related incident about once every three days on a U.S. farm. To help empower parents in assigning appropriate work tasks to children, the National Children’s Center has created safety and educational materials including:
The Ag Youth Work Guidelines help farm parents decide when their kids are ready for certain jobs. This website includes more than 50 common jobs a child could do in an agricultural setting. Posters for each job help parents decide if a child is ready based on development, not age.
Prevention Briefs cover a variety of topics, including “Don’t mix worksite and childcare.”
Aginjurynews.org rooted in news clippings
Aginjurynews.org was launched in 2015 as a way for the National Farm Medicine Center to store and access newspaper clippings. Media members would request data related to farm safety incidents, but Farm Medicine staff only had news clippings in binders. The director at the time suggested the clippings be converted to an electronic format.
Weichelt envisioned more than a spreadsheet, rather, a public website repository. Since its launch, the team has added new collaborators and partners, improved data collection and the coding and screening process. The website was redesigned in 2018.
Weichelt said he has held firm in not charging for the data or requiring subscriptions. Aginjurynews.org offers open access to anyone who registers for a free account. It helps people stay informed about real-world cases and stories. Ag producers and farmers use it as examples and talking points in safety meetings with employees. News reporters gather data, real-life incidents and contacts for their articles. Insurance companies, county extension agents, FFA teachers and other educators can use it in their interactions with the farming community. Local fire departments and FFA chapters have used aginjurynews.org in their safety messages and training.
Aginjurynews.org is also becoming a hub for keepers of regional data sets who are starting to talk and work together, Heiberger said, especially now that the federal government is doing less in tracking farm injuries.
“Surveillance done scientifically is expensive and would be even more so trying to capture injuries on small family farms, where a disproportionate amount of the injuries occurs,” Heiberger said, “so we feel as if aginjurynews.org is emerging at an important time.”
How to register
Anyone can set up a free account on aginjurynews.org and search thousands of unique incidents. Create an account online today.