This study describes chores when farmers were either fatally or seriously injured and required emergency medical treatment as a result of overturns of tractors with or without rollover protective structures (ROPS). Data from the 2002 Kentucky Farm Tractor Overturn Survey
were used for this study. The data were collected by a telephone survey of a population-based random sample of 6063 (7.98%) of Kentucky’s 76,017 farm operators as listed in the Kentucky Agricultural Statistics Service database. Of farm operators interviewed, 551 (9.1%) reported 603 overturns and 5512 (90.9%) reported no overturns in the history of their farm, covering a period from 1925 to February 2002. Only the latest overturn was considered to improve recall accuracy. In addition, since the 1925 to 1959 time period had only 49 (8.1%) of the overturns reported, (14 farmers did not provide the year of most recent overturn); only data from the 1960 to 2002 period (approximately 41 years) were used. After making these adjustments, incidents evaluated included 25 cases (one fatal and four serious nonfatal injuries) that involved ROPS-equipped tractor overturns and 88 cases (24 fatal and 64 serious nonfatal injuries) that involved non-ROPS tractor overturns. Chores at highest risk for tractor overturns were identified for which educational and ROPS retrofit interventions could be emphasized. The highest frequency of overturn-related fatalities and nonfatal injuries were associated with hay harvesting, rotary mowing, and on-farm travel chores. These three chores represented 68.2% of fatal events and 50.0% of permanent and 56.6% of temporary disability overturn incidents. Tragically, in countries such as India and China with emerging mechanization, a large majority of tractors are produced without ROPS that can be expected to result in the same overturn-related epidemic of deaths experienced in highly mechanized countries, despite evidence of the protection provided by ROPS.
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