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Bill Field
MAKE SAFETY PRIORITY: Purdue’s Bill Field suggests that no matter what age you are, you must think safety first before driving a tractor on the farm or on the road.

Who dies in farm accidents in Indiana?

Farm accidents can happen to anyone, but some age groups are more at risk.

Higher odds for dealing with arthritis and cancer aren’t the only things that go along with growing older. The latest statistics released by Purdue University’s Ag Engineering Department show that in 2017, half of all farm fatalities in Indiana happened to people older than 60.

Thirty-six people were killed in farm-related accidents in 2017, the last year for which Bill Field and his crew have data. Field, the Purdue farm safety specialist, and an assistant, Yuan-Hsing Chen, just released the full report for 2017. 

Field and Chen track deaths of those under 18 and over 60 when they report results. “These two groups have historically represented a disproportional share of total deaths,” Field says. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a victim if you’re 25, 35 or 45 — it just means odds are higher if you’re under 18 or over 60.

From 1994 through 2017, these two age groups accounted for 59% of all farm-related deaths, or nearly six of 10. In 2017, these age groups accounted for 22 of the 36 deaths, or 61%.

“There has been little change in this trend over the past two decades, except that more of the victims are older than 60, with several in their 80s and 90s,” Field says. He attributes that partially to an aging population of farmers.   

The lowest percentage of farm accident deaths to people over 60 during this 24-year period was in 1995, when 29% were over 60. However, 43 people died that year, including nine under the age of 18, which is the highest number of deaths of those under 18 during the 24-year period.

Numbers move up and down, Field notes, but the trends remain consistent. Older people and younger people are still most likely to die in farm accidents.

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