A series of farm fatalities in Iowa this summer has prompted a University of Iowa College of Public Health program to issue a hazard alert warning Iowa farmers about the risk of injury and death associated with the overturn of older tractors.
The Iowa Fatality Assessment Control and Evaluation (Iowa FACE) program is investigating four fatal injuries involving tractor overturns that occurred in Iowa during June and July. All four of these accidents occurred in farm workers over 70 years of age.
"On Iowa farms, many of the older tractors in use today are not equipped with rollover protection structures," says John Lundell, deputy director of the Injury Prevention Resource Center in the UI College of Public Health. "These tractors can be quite unsafe to operate, and as a result, tractor overturn is the leading cause of farm worker deaths."
Iowa FACE Program warns farmers of tractor overturn risk
From 2003 through 2010, 74 farm operators and workers in Iowa died from tractor-related injuries. Most of these fatalities were associated with tractors that did not have rollover protection structures to prevent the operator from being pinned under or thrown from the tractor.
"Rollover protective structures do not prevent rollovers from occurring," Lundell continued. "But when installed and used properly with a seatbelt, these devices are 99% effective in preventing injury or death."
To help minimize the risks associated with a tractor overturn, the Iowa FACE program recommends that anyone operating a tractor without rollover protection structures should contact a local implement dealer to install the device and seat belts in the vehicle. In addition, farmers must be aware of terrain characteristics that may increase the risk of a rollover, including ditches, holes, slopes and unstable ground near roadways.
The Iowa FACE program is conducted by the Injury Prevention Research Center at the UI in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Public Health and its Office of the State Medical Examiner.
To read the full text of the alert and to learn more about occupational fatalities in Iowa or the Iowa FACE program, visit http://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/face.