Tractor Fatalities and Injury on New Zealand Farms

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Alsop, Jonathan;
  • Clarke, Judith;
  • Cryer, P. Colin;
  • Langley, John D.;
  • Marshall, Stephen W.


The aim of the research was to describe the epidemiology of tractor incidents on New Zealand farms which resulted in death or hospital inpatient treatment. Fatalities were identified from three independent data files for the period 1986-1991. Hospitalizations were selected from national hospital inpatient files for the period 1980-1989.

There were 51 deaths, an average of 8.5 per year, or an estimated rate of 1 per 100,000 rural residents per year. Only 47% of the cases were recorded on all three databases. Those in the 60+ age group had the highest number and rates of fatal injury. There were 1,151 incidents requiring inpatient treatment, an average of 115 per year, or an estimated rate of 22 per 100,000 rural residents per year. Males in the 15 to 19 age group had the highest gender specific rate. At least 23% of the fatalities and 45% of the non-fatal injuries occurred to persons whose primary occupation was other than farming.

When specific events were examined as a proportion of all events, there had been a significant decline in non-fatal overturns. Our analyses also show that this was not due to other types of crash increasing over time. While overturns were an important cause of fatalities and non-fatal injury, the non-fatal injury analysis highlights the fact that the majority of tractor incidents did not appear to involve overturns.

Efforts to reduce mortality and morbidity associated with tractors would be greatly facilitated by: an enhancement of national surveillance systems; in-depth studies into specific classes of events with priority being given to “overturns”; and consideration of the elderly, children, and those whose primary occupation is not related to farming. In addition, existing and proposed legislation needs to be reviewed to ensure that it comprehensively addresses protection for all tractor users and roll-over protection.

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