Preliminary Results of Data Gathered by Agricultural Nurses in New York State 1991-1993

  • Casey, Gabrielle

The goal of the Agricultural Health Nurse Program in New York is to identify and prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities on farms across the state. The agricultural nurses in New York focus on several areas for their investigations. These include severe injuries, fatalities, respiratory diseases and chemical poisonings. Cases of severe stress that develop as a result of accidents, extreme weather or other calamities are also investigated. Children were not originally a specific target area; however, as investigations of farm accidents proceeded, the nurses began to see a number of incidents involving children.

Investigations of farm accidents include a site visit or telephone contact to interview the injured farmer and his or her family. All fatalities and accidents that fall into the targeted categories always result in a site visit. Information concerning the accident is gathered and recommendations regarding injury prevention is offered. The nurses may also make referrals for rehabilitative services, support groups or financial counseling. Often a follow-up visit or phone call is made to inquire about the progress of the injured farmer and the family.

Since 1991, the nurses have investigated 438 farm incidents. The majority of the farmers in the program are white and the average age is 40 years. Less than half of the accidents (43%) occurred among full-time farmers. Farm employees accounted for 20% of the accidents; children were involved in 12% of the incidents.

Of the accidents investigated, 190 injuries were severe enough to require hospitalization. The nurses have also investigated 54 fatalities. The average age of farmers who died as a result of their injuries was 48 years.

Machinery was involved in 217 (50%) of the injuries and animals were the cause of 46 (11%) of the investigated injuries. Tractors alone account for 24% of the overall incidents on the farms and 47% of the injuries involving farm machinery.

Of the fatalities, accidents involving farm machinery resulted in 33 (58%) deaths. Tractors were responsible for 40% of the overall fatalities and 70% of the fatalities involving machinery. Animals caused 4 (7%) of the deaths. Other causes of death include asphyxiation, drownings, accidental shooting and suicide.

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 author noted above is from: At the New York State Department of Health.

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