An online tool is helping researchers see trends in agriculture-related injuries and offer safety solutions for farm families.
Data from AgInjuryNews.org, an interactive web-based system that allows anyone to search the largest database of publicly available agricultural injury and fatality reports, indicate that children ages 6 and younger suffer a disproportionately high number of fatal injuries in farm-related incidents. The results are consistent with previous studies: little children can get into trouble and get injured very easily.
Report reveals young children at risk on farms
Bryan Weichelt, an associate research scientist with the National Farm Medicine Center and National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, led a team of researchers from across the nation, which used data from 2015-2017 to look at 255 incidents involving 348 youth injuries. They published their results in a research article (https://doi.org/10.1080/1059924X.2019.1605955) in the peer-reviewed Journal of Agromedicine.
They found a disproportionate number of children ages 6 and younger died from farm injuries than victims in other age groups.
The team also found that occupational and non-occupational injuries resulted in similar injury severities.
The data also revealed that unsupervised children, especially youth ages 0 to 6 years, who were playing near vehicles, machinery, animals or farm structures faced an increased risk of injury.
In agriculture, the workplace often overlaps with the home, said Scott Heiberger, communications manager for the National Farm Medicine Center and current President of the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health. In fact, of children 10 and younger who are injured on farms, more than half are not working at the time of the injury.
“… (A)ttention should be given, and significant investment made, to keep young children out of the worksite,” the Journal of Agromedicine article reported. The data “have shown an increased vulnerability for young children in agricultural work environments. Yet, parents continue to place children in hazardous situations.”
Safety solutions designed for parents
A child dies in an agriculture-related incident about once every three days on a U.S. farm. To help empower parents in assigning appropriate work tasks to children, the National Children’s Center has created safety and educational materials including:
• The Ag Youth Work Guidelines help farm parents decide when their kids are ready for certain jobs. This website includes more than 50 common jobs a child could do in an agricultural setting. Posters for each job help parents decide if a child is ready based on development, not age.
• Prevention Briefs cover a variety of topics, including “Don’t mix worksite and child care.”