WRITER: LESLIE LOVELESS
CONTACT: DAVE PEDERSEN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: May 10, 1999
UI report outlines initiatives to reduce tractor injuries,
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The lives of more than 2,000 farmers
and farm family members could be saved over the next 15 years, according to
the authors of a new University of Iowa report on tractor safety.
The report, "Tractor Risk Abatement and Control,"
published by the UI department of preventive medicine and environmental health,
recommends a broad set of public and private initiatives to address the leading
cause of fatal farm injury: the farm tractor.
Each year nearly 300 people on U.S. farms are killed
by tractors. Some 20 percent of these deaths are children under the age of
18. The most common kind of fatal incident is a tractor overturn, which typically
occurs when a tractor tips over while operating along an incline (such as
a ditch), crushing the driver. Although all newly manufactured tractors now
have Roll-Over Protective Structures (ROPS), and some older tractors have
been retrofitted with ROPS, nearly two-thirds of all tractors in this country
still lack this proven technology to save lives.
The report recommends a combination of legislative,
educational and voluntary strategies to dramatically reduce tractor overturn
deaths, including laws mandating ROPS on all U.S. tractors. The passage of
similar laws in some European countries has virtually eliminated this type
of farm fatality.
"Agriculture is the second most hazardous industry
in the United States," said Kelley Donham, D.V.M., UI professor of preventive
medicine and environmental health. "If we as a society are concerned about
correcting this tragedy, we must address tractors, as they are involved in
50 percent of all agricultural deaths."
The report also outlines other factors involved with
tractor fatalities, including runovers and extra riders, youths operating
tractors and public roadway incidents, and makes recommendations for reducing
deaths in these areas.
"Tractor Risk Abatement and Control" is the result
of a policy conference aimed at building consensus among tractor manufacturers
and dealers, farmers, researchers, extension service personnel,
legislators, public health professionals and lawyers. The conference, which
was held in September 1997, addressed sticking points that were preventing
the development of an effective
intervention to reduce the risk to farmers. Concerns about
issues such as industry liability and cost and inconvenience to farmers were
stalling action on a comprehensive approach to reducing tractor deaths. The
report is the result of the consensus opinion of a broad range of stakeholders.
"Enacting the recommendations in this report will
save lives," Donham said. "To make it happen will take a concerted effort
on the part of the agricultural and public health community." Donham chaired
the policy conference and authored the report.
For more information, including a copy of the report,
call (319) 335-4415.