Seventy-nine workers suffered a traumatic death while working in Iowa during 2007 according to the Iowa Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program, called IA FACE, based at the University of Iowa College of Public Health in Iowa City. That figure is close to the average number of worker deaths for the past 10 years.
"Of the fatalities, 22 farmers lost their lives, 23 truckers died in fatal crashes, and over a dozen workers died at their industrial or commercial place of employment," says Murray Madsen, chief investigator for IA FACE. "Farmers accounted for approximately one-third of all traumatic work deaths in Iowa last year. This figure is similar to that of 2006."
Descriptions for all traumatic work deaths in the state from 1994 through 2006 are available at www.public-health.uiowa.edu/FACE.
Tractor overturns common cause of death
Funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the IA FACE program is part of a national network of state programs that collects information on worker fatalities. In Iowa, the program has a special focus on ag fatalities and works closely with teaching, research and outreach programs in agricultural safety and health in the UI College of Public Health.
The most common event leading to farm worker fatalities (one in three) is the overturn of an older tractor not equipped with a rollover protective structure. The next most-common event occurs when either equipment operators or co-workers are run over by equipment that moved unexpectedly, or when individuals are crushed under machines or parts of machines that shifted or fell.
Madsen says although farm-related deaths occur too frequently, for the second year in a row the number was 25% below the 10-year average. He believes continued attention to issues of health and safety by farmers and community groups and organizations has helped achieve this positive result.
Continued attention needed for health, safety
"The purpose of collecting information on worker fatalities is ultimately prevention," he says. "We hope that by alerting workers and employers to common hazards in the workplace, we can prevent similar fatalities."
The Iowa Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program is conducted by the UI Injury Prevention Research Center in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Public Health and State Medical Examiner's Office. For more information contact Murray Madsen, IA FACE program, 319-335-4481,
[email protected]; Or Kate Gleeson, College of Public Health Communications, 319-384-4277, [email protected].