A report from Purdue University’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program released this week shows there were 25 documented farm fatalities in Indiana in 2020. The report is released each year in conjunction with National Farm Safety and Health Week.
According to the report, tractor overturns have accounted for the single largest cause of farm-related deaths over the past 50 years. In 2020, there were 9 documented tractor-related fatalities that involved 2 tractor overturns and 3 tractor runovers. Purdue’s Dr. Bill Field, one of the authors of the report, says that these incidents aren’t typically happening on large, commercial farms that have newer equipment.
“As we’ve seen a growth in the number of small hobby farms, small agricultural operations, that involve people who may have limited experience, they’re tending to buy a lot of this used machinery at farm sales and some of that is 40, 50, 60 years old. And it fails to have some of the safety devices that have been so successful at preventing injuries and fatalities on newer equipment.”
There was one documented grain bin entrapment death in Indiana in 2020. Field says the big issue causing grain entrapments is storing grain that is out of condition.
“When we start storing grain at moisture levels above 14% or 15%, we start seeing spoilage occurring and that’s when they have to get in and wrestle with that grain, scrape it off the walls, break up the crust, and that’s when they’re going to have problems. My concern right now is I have a folder with 30 requests to do grain bin rescue training. We get almost no requests on how to improve the condition, the quality, of the grain so that you never have that problem.”
Dr. Field appeared on Hoosier Ag Today affiliate station WBAT in Grant County with HAT Vice President Eric Pfeiffer Thursday morning to discuss the report, rural road safety, mental health, and other farm safety issues. You can hear that interview below.