A review of worker deaths by a program at the University of Iowa shows farmers accounted for one-third of the 79 deaths statewide in 2007– but the overall trend in ag deaths was down. Murray Madsen, is the chief investigator for the Iowa Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program or "FACE." Madsen says the number of deaths of farmers in the past 10-12 years is an average of 29, so this year’s number is lower than the average. He says there’s a good trend in the numbers.
Madsen says this is the second straight year they’ve recorded farmer deaths that’s lower than the ten year average. Madsen says many of the deaths are related to equipment. He says the number one incident in farmer deaths involved tractor overturns, particularly tractors without rollover bars.
Madsen says unless the rollover bar has been removed, the tractors involved were likely built prior to 1985. Madsen says other farm deaths were related to farmers being crushed or hit by equipment, which leads him to one conclusion."We ought to pay a little more attention to being under machines or parts of machines that could fall, and proper jacking and blocking and those kinds of things, would be something that caught my eye when looking at the data," Madsen says.
Accidents involving farm machinery on the roadways has been a problem, but Madsen says those aren’t counted in this data. He says when a car with someone who is not working runs into a farmer on the roadway and the driver of the car is killed, that is not considered a work-related death. The report also showed there were 23 deaths among truckers in Iowa.
Madsen says he has focused mainly on the farm aspect, but said the trucker deaths were likely in part due to the number of trucks crossing the state on the interstate highway system. To see a report on all traumatic work deaths in the state from 1994 through 2006, go to the FACE website .