Rise In Farming Accidents

Robert Edwards Oct. 15, 2015

Just last week the Minnesota Star Tribune ran a series of articles concerning the dangers of the family farm. "Farming remains one of the most dangerous occupations in America, with fatality rates above other high risk industries such as mining and construction. Altogether, nearly 5000 people have died in farm accidents since 2003." Farming remains one of the nation's most dangerous occupations, generating an average of more than 400 work-related deaths each year.

The series of articles went on to highlight some of the more dangerous facets of farming and the statistics were alarming. "At least 17 farm workers in Minnesota have died since 2004 while working inside grain bins."

"Tractor rollovers have been the top cause of death on the family farm for decades, even though engineers long ago figured out how to build a safer machine. Roll bars and enclosed cabs that modern tractors come with greatly reduce the danger. Other countries insist on such rollover protective structures, as they are known. But the United States allows hundreds of thousands of older tractors to remain in use without the safeguards. It also allows farmers to remove the safety features, and some do." More than 1700 US farm workers died in tractor accidents from 2003 to 2013. At least 30 of those were right here in Minnesota.

So what can be done? In Minnesota it turns out that virtually nothing is being done so having anything done at all would be an improvement. The articles discussed how Minnesota and many upper Midwest states take a "hands-off" approach to farm safety, essentially delegating that responsibility to the farmers themselves. In contrast, the state of Washington has enacted and extensive farm/agricultural safety program. The results have been remarkable. "Despite having a larger farm workforce than any state in the Midwest, Washington has reported a total of 63 farm deaths since 2003. By comparison, Minnesota, Iowa and six other Midwestern states each ship had more than 200 work-related farm fatalities during that time."

The problem is actually getting worse. Between 2003-2013 farm deaths rose in the Midwest at a greater rate than anywhere else. Over half of the 4863 people who died in that time frame died on farms in the Midwest. Michigan had the highest increase of farm deaths at 58% over that time frame, while in Minnesota farm deaths climbed 32%.

If someone you know has been seriously injured in a farm accident it would be worthwhile to contact a personal injury attorney to see if there is any remedy.