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Release: Immediate

UI to host tractor injury prevention workshop

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Agricultural health and safety experts at the University of Iowa College of Medicine will host a workshop on tractor injuries Sept. 10-12 at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City.

"Tractor Injury Prevention: A Policy Workshop" will follow the 13th Congress of the International Association of Agricultural Medicine and Rural Health, Sept. 7-9 at the UI. Farmers, farm workers, farm organization representatives, tractor manufacturer and farm equipment dealer representatives, public health and occupational safety experts, researchers and policy makers are expected to attend the workshop.

"The overall goal of the workshop is to develop public and private sector policies that will reduce tractor-related injuries that result in more than 400 deaths among farmers and children on U.S. farms each year," says Dr. Kelley Donham, UI professor of preventive medicine and environmental health and director of Iowa's Center for Agricultural Safety and Health.

There have been 142 deaths caused by tractor accidents in Iowa since 1990, Donham notes.

The workshop will focus on five key areas of tractor-related injuries: overturns, run-overs, injuries that occur on public roads, power take-off (PTO) entanglements and youths who operate tractors. Specific objectives of the workshop include reviewing existing data on the causes of tractor-related fatalities, identifying effective injury prevention measures, developing public and private sector policies and strategies, creating model legislation that may be used by states to help establish public policy, and promoting methods for policy implementation and evaluation.

Workshop participants will meet as a whole group on the first day, discussing current issues in tractor injury prevention such as research, engineering, education, regulation and incentives. On day two, participants will work to build consensus and develop a policy agenda in each of the five key areas. Input from farm machinery manufacturers, farmers and farm groups, and workshop attendees will be used to draft a policy document to be released in the fall. In addition, participants will develop plans for implementing policies and follow-up activities.

David Osterberg, UI adjunct professor of geography, will serve as facilitator during the workshop sessions. He is a former Iowa state legislator who was chair of both the House Agriculture and House Environment committees.

Agricultural health and safety researchers have published numerous studies showing that tractor accidents account for more than half of the farm-related deaths that occur in the United States each year. A 1994 UI study reported that 136 deaths occurred in Iowa from tractor-related accidents from 1988-92 -- 56 percent of Iowa's agriculturally-related deaths during that period.

Researchers and other farm safety experts point out that rollover protective structures (ROPS) are nearly 100 percent effective in preventing tractor-related injuries and deaths. However, there is no mandate in the U.S. that the devices be fitted on tractors. It is estimated that approximately two-thirds of the tractors in use in the U.S. are not equipped with a ROPS. Several leading tractor manufacturers do offer retrofit ROPS for their equipment at or below their cost. A ROPS can be installed on many tractor models for between $300-$600.