National Tractor Safety Initiative: Costs of Tractor Operator Injuries from Overturns and Highway Collisions

In 2004, the NIOSH Agricultural Safety and Health Centers launched a major initiative to conduct research on the consequences of agricultural tractor-related injuries and on measures to prevent them. The most significant cause of fatal injuries is tractor overturns (Hard, et al, 2001). An effective intervention to control these injuries is equipping tractors with rollover protective structures (ROPS) and seatbelts (Swenson, 2004). Estimates of the costs of fatal overturns of non-ROPS tractors exist but are limited; much less is known about the frequency, severity, and costs of non-fatal injuries that result from these events. This project combined operator fatal and nonfatal injury outcome data from a large population-based random sample of Kentucky farms with farm tractor-related injury data from two large U.S. worker compensation databases, three large national random sample USDA/NIOSH farm tractor surveys, public roadway farm machinery crash data from North Carolina, and worker compensation data from Finland. The two key aims of this study were to (1) determine the prevalence and costs of farm tractor overturn and roadway collision injuries and identify how these costs are distributed (who pays these costs); and (2) use recently collected data from four population-based sources to estimate the frequency and severity of tractor overturn injuries and calculate the cost of these events and the losses averted by retrofitting unguarded agricultural tractors with ROPS or replacing them with ROPS-equipped tractors.

The project team included experienced researchers from the University of Kentucky, the University of Iowa, the University of California-Davis, Colorado State University, North Carolina State University, and NIOSH (Morgantown, WV).

For more information contact Henry P. Cole, EdD Professor of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health University of Kentucky College of Public Health Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention 1141 Red Mile Road, Suite 102 Lexington, KY 40504-9842 (859) 323-6836 / Final Report (pdf format)