A new report by the University of Iowa College of Public Health investigators sheds light on the more than 200 agriculture-related deaths per year that occur in Midwestern states, confirming that farming remains one of the nation’s most dangerous industries and poses particular risks to vulnerable populations such as elderly workers.
The goal of the report, sponsored by the UI Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health, is to facilitate access to agricultural fatality information for anyone interested in agricultural safety and health.
“Numerous hazards threaten farm workers including exposure to machinery, livestock, chemicals, noise, and physical stress, which can be compounded by the fact that agricultural activities are often performed in rural environments with limited access to medical services,” the authors explain.
Over the period reviewed, there were on average 232 agriculture-related fatalities per year in the Midwest region, an annual rate of 19.94 agriculture-related deaths per 100,000 farm operators. This compares with an overall rate of 3.4 fatal work injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers across all industries in 2012.
The researchers also report that agriculture-related fatalities increase with age. Over three-quarters (77 percent) of agriculture-related deaths occurred among persons 45 years or older, and 41 percent occurred in individuals 65 and older. Less than three percent of agriculture-related fatalities occurred among minors less than 16 years old.