Frequency and Severity of Injuries to Operators during Overturns of Farm Tractors

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Cole, Henrey;
  • Myers, Melvin;
  • Westneat, Susan C.


Previous estimates of operator death from farm tractor overturn events range from 0.03 to 0.68. This study provided population-based estimates of the denominator of total farm tractor overturns and the frequency of six classes of overturn injury outcomes for tractors with and without rollover protective structures (ROPS). A 40-item telephone survey collected information from a random sample of 6,063 (8.0%) Kentucky farms about each farm's most recent overturn. A total of 551 (9.1%) farms reported overturns, and 5,512 (90.1%) reported no overturns. Injury outcomes for 443 overturns of non-ROPS tractors and 89 ROPS tractors were distributed as follows: no or minor injury (non-ROPS: 70.43%; ROPS: 82.02%), outpatient treatment (non-ROPS: 21.90%; ROPS: 9.00%), hospital admission (non-ROPS: 15.35%; ROPS: 3.37%), temporary disability (non-ROPS: 13.54%; ROPS: 14.61%), permanent disability (non-ROPS: 3.16%; ROPS: 0.00%), and death (non-ROPS: 5.42%; ROPS: 1.12%). (Percents total to more than 100 because some operators treated as outpatients were subsequently hospitalized, disabled, or died.) The observed 0.054 probability of death from overturn of non-ROPS tractors in this sample was corrected for the proportion of farms that went out of business prior to the survey and thus were excluded from the sampling frame. The adjusted 0.08 probability of death from overturn of a non-ROPS tractor is five times smaller than the NIOSH estimate of 0.40. The discrepancy lies in the much larger denominator of all non-fatal and fatal overturns than assumed previously.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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