Senior Farmers At Risk On The Farm (Sample News Release)

Older farmers and ranchers must deal with the effects of aging just like everyone else. However, the already dangerous work of farming can become more hazardous as farmers age. The quick onset of fatigue, reduced vision and slower reaction time that are part of the normal aging process can increase risk among older agricultural workers. Also, many suffer from permanent hearing loss and arthritis which can seriously impact safe job performance.

All these factors combine to increase risk among older farmers and ranchers. Research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has demonstrated that tractor drivers 65 years and older may be two to three times more likely to die in tractor accidents than persons in other age groups. A study conducted by Purdue University farm safety specialists revealed an increased risk for older farm machinery operators because of arthritis. Arthritis limits the mobility of farmers and ranchers during many farm tasks.

The National Safety Council recommends that older farmers and ranchers compensate for the normal aging process:

  • Have your vision checked by a doctor regularly. The aging process also can decrease peripheral vision which may affect driving performance.
  • Remember that vision is hampered the most at dawn and dusk; avoid riding tractors at these times. Be aware that older drivers' eyes need more light to see well but also are more sensitive to glare.
  • Get plenty of rest during planting, harvest and long work periods. Take frequent breaks to protect against fatigue and physical stress. Drink plenty of liquids and keep them available in your work area. Accidents are more likely to occur after fatigue has set in.
  • Use extreme caution when operating equipment. Be familiar with any medication you take and its effect on reaction time. Even over-the-counter medications can hamper reflexes and diminish alertness, limiting your ability to operate farm tractors and machinery.
  • Make sure that a family member or fellow worker knows where you will be working.
  • Know your limitations. Don't push your mind and body past their safe and healthy limits.

This document is a Sample News Release produced by the National Safety Council, Public Relations Department, 1121 Spring Lake Drive, Itasca, IL 60143-3201, (708)775-2307.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More