Background: Previous studies have shown that older farmers and farm workers have been identified at high risk for farm fatalities, most notably involving tractor overturns. Older farmers also incur more severe non-fatal injuries.
Methods: Data from two national surveillance systems are presented to describe fatal and non-fatal injuries occurring to older farmers 55+ years of age. Tractor-related fatality investigations for older farmers are examined for characteristics of the tractors not available in the injury surveillance systems.
Results: Older farmers and farm workers averaged 26,573 lost-time injuries annually in 2001 and 2004, with an injury rate of 4.5 injuries/100 workers/year compared to an overall farming injury rate of 4.8 injuries/100 workers/year. Fatality data show that older farmers accounted for over half of all farming deaths between 1992 and 2004 (3,671 of 7,064 deaths), and had a fatality rate of 45.8 deaths/100,000 workers/year compared to the overall farming fatality rate of 25.4 deaths/100,000 workers/year. Most common mechanisms of fatal injury to older farmers were "tractors" (46%), "trucks" (7%), and "animals" (5%).
Conclusions: Although older farmers and farm workers are at lower risk of overall injury compared to their younger counterparts, injuries to farmers 55 years and older tend to be much more severe. To effectively minimize the risk faced by older farmers, prevention programs must encourage safe work behaviors and practices and the implementation/installation of appropriate safety devices and equipment.