Along with his staff, Bill Field, Purdue University Extension farm safety specialist, recently released the farm fatality report for 2011. Field is the direct link from Purdue to the Indiana Rural Safety and Health Council.
There is no required reporting service for farm fatalities or farm injuries in Indiana, Field says. Most of the data is acquired through clipping services and other resources.
There were 16 farm-related deaths in 2011, down from 23 in 2010. While the number fluctuates, the trend line is down. When Field first started reporting this data more than 30 years ago, farm fatalities were routinely 30 or more per year.
For the first time in 13 years, no children under the age of 18 were involved as a fatality in a farm accident, Field says. He says education has helped bring down the numbers, especially for children.
About a decade ago, five children perished in one year, mostly on Amish farms. With help from the Indiana Rural Safety and Health Council, Field and his staff produced a coloring book just for Amish children, telling them about the dangers of working with equipment and animals around the farm. Several thousand copies were distributed, partly through the work of Steve Engleking, the Purdue Extension ag educator then in LaGrange County. Information sessions with parents often accompanied distribution of the coloring books.
One thing has not changed over the years, Field says. Tractors are still the leading cause of farm fatalities, and tractor overturns make up the lion's share of those accidents. In 2012, 38%, or nearly four in 10, of all farm deaths were linked to incidents involving tractors.
In some years the total has been higher than 50% for incidents involving tractors, Field says. Tractor overturns have always been a big concern.