Developing and Using a Comprehensive Agricultural Injury Data Collection System

  • Milroy, L.;
  • Morgan, David L.

Nebraska's economy revolves around agriculture. In 1991, over 90% of the state -- some 47.1 million acres -- were farm and ranchland. Nebraska, during this time, was home to 56,000 farms and ranches (Nebraska Blue Book 92-93). One-third of the state's population lived in rural areas, according to the 1990 census. These figures are the most current published data. Nebraska's economy is related directly or indirectly to agriculture, so the need for current injury data is vital for those developing intervention strategies to control the economic impact of lost time injuries.

Mechanisms of farm and ranch occupational injuries are not well quantified. Most recent studies were retrospective interviews of a random sample of the rural population. The Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska Department of Health investigated the feasibility of obtaining prospective data by developing a survey instrument, and requesting Emergency Room staff to complete an instrument on each Emergency Room admission resulting from agricultural injury.

Only Acute Care hospitals were contacted for participation in the study. Out of ninety-two (92) Acute Care hospitals in Nebraska, almost half, forty-six (46), agreed to participate in the study with twenty-nine (29) of the hospitals sending back data. The twenty-nine (29) hospitals were scattered across the state. Only the northern part of the state was under-represented. Five (5) of the participating hospitals were located in urban areas. All five urban hospitals received the injured as transfer patients from rural hospitals.

The study shows that three mechanisms of injury are highly over-represented across all age groups. The mechanisms (animals, machinery and tractors) change positions in the different age categories but always stay in the top three. Also, hospital costs were highly inflated for each age group due to the severity of injuries and the distance from a qualified trauma center. The cost per injury for children sixteen and under was three times that for adults. Data from each hospital revealed a county travel pattern that, in many cases, resulted in patients traveling out of the county of injury to reach treatment. Categories were added as data was compiled because the "Other" category was far too immense and varied. "Hand Tools" was a category that was added as well as "Falls." These two categories reduced the "Other" category to ten cases.

This research abstract was extracted from a portion of the proceedings of "Agricultural Safety and Health: Detection, Prevention and Intervention," a conference presented by the Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The authors noted above are from: Both at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.

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