No one wants to have a family member killed or injured in a farm accident. Unfortunately, Bill Field, Purdue University Extension farm safety specialist, says that thousands of non-fatal farm accidents requiring medical attention are believed to happen every year.
"It's difficult to know for sure because there is no system requiring anyone to report non-fatal farm accidents," he says. For that matter, fatal farm accidents aren't reported to a central location either. Field and his staff do their best to chronicle all fatal accidents and report on them in a summary once per year.
It's even tougher if it's an injury, he says. The problem is that costs of serious non-fatal accidents that happen on the farm can be staggering. A spinal cord injury today can cost a million dollars, he says.
Based on data from national sources, it's estimated that as much as $8 million may be spent on non-farm fatal accidents in Indiana alone each year. That would work out to $1,200 per accident, Field says.
Some are much more expensive. Doug Pond, a member of the Indiana Safety and Rural Health Council and an insurance executive with Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, says the company paid out $750,000 in three claims for non-fatal farm accidents over just a three-month span this summer. Some of the accidents involved getting arms or legs and feet caught in augers in grain handling situations.
One problem with grain bins is that farmers often take the shield over the grain well off so that it won't clog and stop the flow of grain if there's spoiled grain, Field says. Then if someone is working in the bin as it's nearly empty, they may step into the open grain well and get caught in an auger. Some of those accidents have been devastating to the victim and family, Field says. More accidents involving grain bin augers are actually stepping into the open grain well rather than getting caught in the sweep auger.