Summary of deaths on Indiana farm shows positive trends, assures worker safety

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Purdue University’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program has released an annual summary of Indiana farm deaths with a historical overview, in conjunction with National Farm Safety and Health Week. The annual celebration has been held during the third week of September since 1944.

The program reported 20 farm-work-related deaths in Indiana in 2021. Data shows that tractors are the most common factor in farm-related deaths, accounting for up to 52% of cases documented in the past 10 years, with six reported in 2021. Other causes included trapping of grain, falling equipment, entanglement and suffocation with fumes in confined spaces.

This shows a decrease from the 25 cases identified in 2020 and represents the lowest number of cases reported in the past eight years. Farm mortality over the past 50 years has continued to decline, likely reflecting safer working mechanisms and practices while also corresponding to a decline in the number of farmers.

Despite this positive trend, program members urge agricultural workers to remain diligent and follow safety protocols. No agency in Indiana requires official documentation of farm-related injuries or deaths, but prior research at Purdue indicated that each year about 1 in 9 Indiana farms have a farmwork-related injury incident that requires medical attention.

Documented incidents of those aged 60 or older account for nearly half of all cases in the past five years, including 40% in 2021.

Historically, farmers over the age of 60, including many who work only part-time, have been responsible for a disproportionate number of farm-related injuries. The report states that the recent rise in mortality over the past 10 years makes this population of elderly farmers a particular concern.

Males account for the majority of deaths, with only one death recorded in 2021. One of the victims was a girl, but historical data show an overall decrease in the frequency of farm-related deaths involving children and young adults.

“It is encouraging that the average annual number of farm-related deaths continues to decline,” said Ed Sheldon, co-author of the report and an agricultural safety specialist at Purdue University. “However, in 2021, at least 20 families and communities in Indiana felt the devastating impact of losing one. of them due to death related to agricultural work.

“This is a very somber reminder that we should never slacken in our efforts to make our farms safer places to live and work.”

When Hoosier farmers begin to harvest, program members remind farmers to keep safety a top priority. Agricultural safety guides, disaster preparedness resources, and an Indiana farm fatality summary can be found online.

clerk: Ashvini Malshea, 765-496-7480,

source: Edward Sheldon, 765-720-0229,


Summary of 2021 Indiana Farm Deaths with Historical Overview

Compiled by Purdue University’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program

Purdue University’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program has been monitoring farm-related deaths in Indiana for nearly 60 years. The oldest specific summary of cases, published in 1966, examined 76 deaths reported during 1963. The Purdue Mortality Database, although acknowledged as not comprehensive of all farm-related deaths, provides a unique historical perspective for exploring trends that occurred over several decades. . During that time, the total number of farms and the number of people directly involved in productive farming decreased dramatically, while production techniques and agricultural practices changed dramatically. During the 1940s and early 1950s, the main identified cause of death was livestock, especially horses and oxen. These animal-related injuries and deaths have been largely replaced, much less frequently, by tractors and machinery. The annual number of farm-related deaths continues to show a general declining trend paralleling the decrease in the number of farm operations. The reduction in the number of farm operations likely contributed more to the reduction in farm-related deaths than any other single factor, even as the productivity of Indiana farmers increased more than ever before.
Agricultural Communications: 765-494-8415;

Maureen Manier, Head of Department,

Agriculture News Page

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