Agriculture has historically been one of the most hazardous of all occupations, with a variety of potential safety risks to workers and even higher risks documented for older agricultural workers. This study was undertaken to document and summarize Indiana farm work-related fatalities involving persons 55 years and older over the 30 year period from 1988 to 2017. Data were mined from the Purdue University Agricultural Safety and Health Program’s Fatality Database that dates back to the 1960s. A total of 388 fatalities involving persons 55 years and older was documented. The average age of the victims was 69.3 years old, and an overwhelming majority of the cases involved males (96.1%). The average number of deaths per year has remained fairly consistent, though it has occasionally been erratic, with an unanticipated increase in the number of documented fatalities over the period 2012–2017. There appeared to be a direct positive correlation between the level or intensity of agricultural production in a county and the frequency of fatalities. The type of fatal injury most commonly reported was crush/run-over, with 229 cases (59%). The most common agent or source of injury involved was tractors, with 157 cases (40.5%). Another noted contributing factor was the high frequency of incidents in which the victim was reported to be working alone at the time of death. Findings will be used to develop evidence-based injury prevention strategies, including the development of agricultural safety training materials and methods more relevant to older farmers. A special emphasis should be placed on reducing the risk of tractor and farm machinery overturns, especially when older, non-roll over protection structure (ROPS) equipped tractors are being operated.
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