During Farm Safety Week this September Bill Field had the somber task of delivering a report that noted that 50% more Hoosiers dies in farm fatalities in 2012 than in 2011. What's worse, if they had not changed reporting methods and still counted highway accidents involving farm machinery as farm fatalities, the number would have been double that of the year before.
Field is the Extension farm safety specialist at Purdue University. He notes that farm fatalities have dropped dramatically since he and his staff began collecting information and reporting on fatality totals some three decades ago, but they are still too high. There is no requirement to report farm fatalities or serious injuries to any agency in Indiana. Purdue compiles the data by using clipping services and various other means of tracking farm accidents, especially those involving deaths.
While grain bin entrapments get a lot of attention, and rightfully so, because those deaths are easily preventable, fatalities involving farm tractors continue to account for about half of the deaths on farms and in rural areas each year, every year. The trend has continued rather constant over the entire time that Purdue has collected data, Field notes.
Many of those involve tractor overturns. Often it is a tractor, perhaps an older tractor, that does not have a rollover protective structure on it. Many times it involves carelessness or trying to navigate very steep terrain.
Another source is PTO accidents. If a shaft is not properly covered, the rotating motion can grab even a thread of clothing and either pull off the clothing, or more frequently and unfortunately, wrap the person into the shaft. Serious injuries or death often result.'
Winter is a good time to inspect each piece of equipment. If a shield over a PTO shaft is broken, now is an excellent time to replace it. It may sound like a broken record but Field assures it is all too real – the life you save by investing a few bucks and the time to replace a faulty shield might be your own.