This just in…a retired worker who works part-time as a maintenance person who is very skilled and careful fell of a ladder on a Saturday in early September when a tree limb he was cutting went the wrong way, and crashed into him instead of falling the opposite direction. He suffered serious injuries but will recover. Someone was at home to call 911. He will probably be away from his job for at least two months.
That's a real, recent incident. The worse news is that data collected by Bill Field and his staff indicate it's not an isolated incident. Field is Extension farm safety specialist at Purdue University. Each year they compile data on fatal accidents that occur on farms.
The 2012 report shows that six of 26 deaths, or nearly one-fourth of all fatalities, happened in similar incidents to the one described above. The victim was hit by a limb or injured in some way while trying to cut limbs or cut trees. That's more than the number of people who died in grain bin entrapments, yet you rarely hear of safety training or programs for working around trees and using a chain saw.
The number of incidents involving woodlot or barnlot tree trimming accidents was higher than usual. In fact, the entire death count from farm accidents was up from 16 in 2011 to 26 in 2012. The incidents with trees helped add to the total and raised the number of farm-accident related deaths last year. Field can't compile data on 2013 until the year is over.
Fortunately, the case described here won't go down as a fatality. However, it may be recorded as a major accident. The price tags on recovering from these types of incidents can be astronomical, Field says. Often the total cost for recovery and rehabilitation from a serious non-fatal farm accident can approach or exceed a million dollars, he notes.