Farm Accidents in the United States

  • Rush, John D.


The number of farm-accident fatalities is not declining in proportion to the decline in farm population, partly because of the increasing average age of people on farms. The annual mortality from farm accidents is estimated at from 60 to 70 per 100,000 of farm population. Nonfatal injuries, including both lost-time and no lost- time accidents, occur to about a third of the farm population annually. The lost-time injuries involve about 19 percent of the farm population; while the more serious nonfatal accidents, those resulting in permanent disabilities, destroy or reduce the earning power of about 3 percent of the farm population annually.

  • Rural environmental situations are more hazardous than urban situations. Farms are isolated, with little supervision of work and not much opportunity for an injured person to obtain first aid promptly. Secondary highways are often hazardous and, though there is less traffic, even on the most improved rural highways it is less controlled than urban streets. The high rate of accidents to farm people is also related to the pattern of farm work, which is more of a family job running more nearly around the clock than the job of a wage earner in town.
  • Accident rates are high among our farm youth. For the United States more than half of the annual mortality to young people between the ages of 15 and 24 is due to accidents.
  • Perhaps 80 percent of our farm accidents result from carelessness or failure to deal with hazards safely. Many accidents are avoidable.
  • Motor vehicles are listed as the agency of injury most frequently associated with accidents to farm people. Traffic accidents to farm people. Traffic accidents account for many of the serious injuries of farm people while they are off their farms. Farm machinery was the agency most frequently associated with accidents occurring on farmland. Falls were most frequently associated with home accidents.
  • Farm accidents are at their peak in June, July, and August--the most active period of crop production and harvest.
  • The economic cost of farm accidents is unknown, but it is believed that hospitalization and medical treatment account for less than a fourth of the total cost. As yet, little is known about the economic loss of wages or production, which probably accounts for a considerable part of the total cost. According to a generally accepted rule of thumb, the indirect costs of industrial accidents are about 4 times the direct costs.
  • As no uniform method of reporting farm accidents has been developed, it is difficult in many respects to make comparisons or pool data from various "spot" studies. A uniform report form, with standardized definitions, is needed. Such a report form and definitions would permit comparison of basic factors among areas and time periods, promote a better understanding of the farm accident problem, encourage local studies, and perhaps point to more effective ways of reducing these accidents.

Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1962. 62.


This document was extracted from the CDC-NIOSH Epidemiology of Farm Related Injuries: Bibliography With Abstracts, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

We are unable to supply copies of the full report cited in this entry. Readers are advised to use the following sources:

  • Author or publisher: articles are frequently available from the author or publisher.
  • Medical or other research libraries: these facilities often have the material on hand or know where it can be obtained. If available, each journal entry includes the appropriate National Library of Medicine unique identification number to aid in interlibrary loan requests.
  • Government: some U.S. Government-sponsored research reports, including ones out-of print, are available from the National Technical Information Service, U.S. Department of Commerce.

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