Tractor Safety InfoDSC00169

Agriculture is consistently ranks among the top three most dangerous industries in the U.S., stated by National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Over 2.5 million migrant an season farmworkers in the U.S. work under everlasting exposure to hazardous pesticides, ergonomic destruction of their bodies, , toil in the unforgiven heat, as well as tractor injuries and fatalities because of the unsafe use of heavy machinery such as tractors. Tractor accidents are the number one cause of deaths and injuries in agriculture.

Tractors are more common on farms than any other piece of equipment and are used to carry mounted and semi-mounted implements, to transport equipment and materials, to pull tillage equipment and wagons and as remote power sources for other equipment. Unfortunately every year, tractor accidents result in serious disabling injuries and tragic loss of life. Losses due to property damage, medical bills, time off work, reduced productivity and insurance costs are considerable. The major causes of injury and death to tractor operators are rollovers, falls and contact with tractor attachments.

Overturns, run overs, entanglement, and highway collisions involving agricultural tractors kill approximately 250 people a year and are by far the leading cause of death and serious injury in agriculture. Overturns consistently account for more than half this total, despite the fact that a simple solution is available and has been for years. Evidence from Europe and elsewhere shows that overturn deaths and serious injuries are virtually eliminated when rollover protective structures (ROPS) are installed on all tractors.

According to the Department of Labor, tractor accidents on farms cause the highest number of fatalities with tractor overturns accounting for 44 percent of all tractor fatalities. Fruit farms have the highest work injury rate among various specified agricultural operations (233 injuries per million hours of exposure). Males have a higher injury rate than females and hired workers have higher injury rates than family members.   Farm surveys indicate that the injury rate is highest among children age 15 and under and adults more than 65 year of age. It has been estimated that the use of protective equipment, such as seat belts on tractors, could prevent up to 40% of all farm work injuries.

The Center for Disease Control released the following statistics:

  • In 2012, 374 farmers and farm workers died from a work-related injury, resulting in a fatality rate of 20.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. Tractor overturns were the leading cause of death for these farmers and farm workers.
  • On average, 113 youth less than 20 years of age die annually from farm-related injuries (1995 -2002), with most of these deaths occurring to youth 16-19 years of age (34%).
  • Of the leading sources of fatal injuries to youth, 23% percent involved machinery (including tractors), 19% involved motor vehicles (including ATVs), and 16% were due to drowning.
  • Every day, about 167 agricultural workers suffer a lost-work-time injury. Five percent of these injuries result in permanent impairment.
  • In 2012, an estimated 14,000 youth were injured on farms; 2,700 of these injuries were due to farm work.

Manufacturers are continually improving the design of tractors to make them safer. However, they are unable, as yet, to build in mechanisms which recognize unsafe conditions. Tractor operators who know their machine and are aware of the hazards which may occur, are better equipped to avoid a tractor mishap. In order to mitigate tractor injuries and fatalities among the farmworkers community, AFOP will expand its suits of training topics and will develop a Tractor Safety training for workers and employers to help mitigate tractor injuries and fatalities and empower the farmworker community and its employer with valuable information to take better decision.