In 2011, vehicular accidents caused close to half (276) of the 570 fatalities among agricultural workers.1 Injuries from vehicular incidents are serious and debilitating to farm activities.
Farm tractors accounted for the deaths of 1,533 people between 2003 and 2011 and were of fatal occupational injuries in agriculture, forestry, and fishing.2 Today, tractor incidents remain the leading source of death and injury on farms.2,3 The National Agricultural Tractor Safety Initiative provides information on current research and resources available to help reduce tractor hazards.
Rollovers - Tractor rollovers are the single deadliest type of injury incident on farms in the United States. In 2011, only 59 percent of tractors had rollover protective structures (ROPs).4 To help understand and prevent farm injuries and deaths, NIOSH has funded studies nationwide on tractor safety and how to protect farmworkers and children. Here are highlights of what researchers have found:
The OSH Act requires an approved ROPs for all agricultural tractors over 20 horsepower that were manufactured after October 25, 1976, and which are operated by a hired worker. (1928.51(b)(1))
Tractors and harvesters should be inspected before they are operated and all operators should be trained in the safe operation. Farmworkers should understand the dangers of the PTO shaft.
The PTO is a driveshaft, usually on a tractor, that can be used to provide power to an attachment or separate machine. It is designed to be easily connected and disconnected. The PTO allows implements to draw energy from the tractor's engine.
Clothing can get caught in PTOs and the associated shafts and joints. The worker may be pulled into the shaft, which often results in loss of a limb or death. Some implements do use plastic guards to try to keep a person from becoming entangled in a PTO shaft, but even with guards, farmworkers need to exercise caution around PTO shafts when they are connected into a tractor or truck. Farmworkers need to know the following:
Farm tractors are involved in most farm fatalities and injuries. Dangers exist from improperly hitching a tractor, using steer skidders incorrectly, carbon monoxide poisoning, and clothing and hair entanglement in improperly guarded moving parts.
The National Safety Council has developed recommendations for using ATVs6. The recommendations include:
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), United States Department of Labor. Occupational Injuries and Illnesses and Fatal Injuries Profiles database queried by industry for Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (GP2AFH), Accessed June 2013.
2 Myers, M.L.,Cole, H. P., Westneat, S.C. "Projected Incidence and Cost of Tractor Overturn-Related Injuries in the United States." Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health, 14(1):93-103; 2008.
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Worker Health Chartbook, 2004: Chapter 3 Focus on Agriculture.
4 National Agricultural Statistics Service. . 2011 Farm and Ranch Safety Survey. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service.
5 Cole, H.P., Myers, M.L., Westneat, S.C. "Frequency and severity of injuries to operators during overturns of farm tractors." Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health, 12(2):127-38, 2006.
6 National Safety Council. All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Safety.
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