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University of Iowa News Release

 

Jan. 16, 2008

Farmers account for one-third of Iowa worker deaths in 2007

Seventy-nine workers suffered a traumatic death while working in Iowa during 2007, according to the Iowa Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (IA FACE) program based in the University of Iowa College of Public Health. That figure is close to the average number of worker deaths for the past 10 years.

"Of the fatalities, 22 farmers lost their lives, 23 truckers died in fatal crashes, and over a dozen workers died at their industrial or commercial place of employment," said Murray Madsen, chief investigator of the IA FACE program. "Farmers accounted for approximately one-third of all traumatic work deaths in Iowa last year. This figure is similar to that of 2006."

Descriptions for all traumatic work deaths in the state from 1994 through 2006 are available at http://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/FACE/.

Funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the IA FACE program is part of a national network of state programs that collects information on worker fatalities. In Iowa, the program has a special focus on agricultural fatalities and works closely with teaching, research and outreach programs in agricultural safety and health in the UI College of Public Health.

According to Madsen, the most common event leading to farm worker fatalities (one in three) was the overturn of an older tractor not equipped with a rollover protective structure. The next most-common event occurred when either equipment operators or co-workers were run over by equipment that moved unexpectedly, or when individuals were crushed under machines or parts of machines that shifted or fell.

Madsen pointed out that although farm-related deaths occur too frequently, for the second year in a row the number was 25 percent below the 10-year average. Madsen believes that continued attention to issues of health and safety by farmers, community groups and organizations has helped achieve this positive result.

"The purpose of collecting information on worker fatalities is ultimately prevention," Madsen said. "We hope that by alerting workers and employers to common hazards in the workplace, we can prevent similar fatalities."

The Iowa Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program is conducted by the UI Injury Prevention Research Center in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Public Health and State Medical Examiner's Office.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242

MEDIA CONTACTS: Murray Madsen, IA FACE program, 319-335-4481, murray-madsen@uiowa.edu; Kate Gleeson, 319-384-4277, kate-gleeson@uiowa.edu