Farm Fatalities on the Decline

In 2011, farms across the United States reported a major drop in farm related fatalities of all ages. The figures suggest that farmers were right last year when they claimed that they did not need additional federal regulation to protect their laborers or safeguard child workers.

Last year, the Labor Department suggested a series of changes be made to US agricultural child labor regulations. The rules, Labor officials said, had not been updated since the 1970s and reflected obsolete and out of date technologies and practices.

The proposed regulations would have banned children under 16 from working with powered farm machinery and would have banned children under 18 from working in dangerous environments like grain silos.

The reaction from the farm community was universally negative, with farmers saying that increased attention to safety was the best way to protect workers.

Recent farm worker fatality figures may have proven those farmers right. Across the country, farm deaths are down in 2011. In Indiana, for example, only 16 people died from farm injuries (down from 23 in 2010) and for the first time in 13 years, no children died from farm injuries.

According to a safety expert at Purdue University, “We’re seeing a retirement of older machinery. Today’s farming units are safer, have better technology, are better guarded and run better overall.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer