Increase in Illinois Farm Deaths Reveals Safety May Not Follow Experience
BLOOMINGTON – Farm-related deaths in Illinois have increased after experiencing record lows last year, according to findings by COUNTRY Financial, the No. 1 insurer of Illinois farms. Twenty-one people were killed in farm-related incidents from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. The majority of the victims were over the age of 50.
Approximately 57 percent of farm death victims in Illinois in 2013-14 were age 65 and above- the fastest growing farmer demographic in the nation, as reported by the USDA’s Agricultural Census. The majority of Illinois farmers fall into the 50 and above age group, which claimed 80 percent of last year’s deaths. As displayed in the chart below, tractor accidents represent the highest risk for more experienced farmers.
“This year’s numbers seem to prove that while experience is key with almost any job, it isn’t a bulletproof vest,” said Eric Vanasdale, senior loss control representative for COUNTRY Financial. “Measures must be taken to improve the safety of our Illinois farmers.”
Every year, COUNTRY Financial tracks farm-related deaths and reports the finding in conjunction with National Farm Safety and Health Week and the Illinois Press Association. This year’s National Farm Safety and Health Week runs September 21-27 and focuses on the theme, “Safety Counts: Protecting What Matters.”
COUNTRY Financial also works with Illinois Farm Bureau to promote farm safety awareness and sponsor county Farm Bureau safety grants.
“We need to continue to promote and evaluate effective means to reduce the injury rate,” said Bob Aherin, professor and program leader at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Fatigue is a significant issue, as are the effects of medications on reaction time. We also need to encourage older farmers to operate tractors with ROPS when doing activities that have a high rollover risk such as mowing roadsides, ditches and fields with significant slopes.”
The U of I’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering provides some tips for farmers to consider as they grow older, including:
Tell family members and fellow workers where you will be working, and for how long.
Remember that vision is most challenged at dawn and dusk; avoid driving machinery at these times.
Be familiar with how your prescriptions –even over-the-counter medications – affect your reaction time. Often medication and machinery do not mix.
For the complete list, visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/agsafety/factsheets/srfarm.cfm.
By bringing awareness to the obstacles farmers face and encouraging them to take additional safety precautions, COUNTRY Financial hopes to report a much lower death rate next year.
About COUNTRY Financial
COUNTRY Financial (www.countryfinancial.com) serves about one million households and businesses throughout the United States. It offers a full range of financial products and services from auto, home, life and business insurance to retirement planning services, investment management and annuities.