Updated July 2008

Senior farmers aged 60 and over represent only 14.4% of the Canadian farming population (2001), but they suffered 35.9% of all agricultural fatalities and 23.4% of agricultural hospitalizations.

In the fifteen years from 1990-2004, 601 older farmers were killed in agricultural injury events. Between April 1990 and March 2000, 3,469 farmers aged 60 and over were hospitalized because of agricultural injuries.

The most frequent causes of death for senior farmers were machine rollovers, alighted operator and improper start runovers, animal events, entanglements, being pinned or struck by a machine, and falling from then being runover by a tractor. The most common causes of hospitalization in this age group were animal events, entanglements, being pinned or struck by a machine, falls from height, and falls on the same level.

Most of these injuries are preventable. Senior farmers in particular may sometimes use older tractors and worn-out equipment that are more prone to malfunctioning. Older tractors often have no seatbelts or ROPS, so rollovers are frequently fatal. Runovers subsequent to bypass starting or ground starting old tractors are also a common cause of fatalities for this age group. Proper maintenance of tractors and machinery, and retrofitting seatbelts and ROPS on older tractors would help reduce the incidence of injuries.

Prevention programs directed at senior farmers should stress the necessity for changing the types of agricultural tasks attempted, and for adapting the methods used to accomplish tasks in order to fit changing abilities and limitations. Marilyn Affleck, collaborator for The Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting states that, “Older farmers are an important part of the farming community. They should avoid putting themselves at undue risk.”

This information is derived from data collected and analyzed by Canadian Agricultural Injury Surveillance Program collaborators and staff. CAIR is funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and managed in cooperation with the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association.

For more information contact:
Dr. Rob Brison (via Deb Emerton),
The Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting,
Department of Emergency Medicine, Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario K7L 2V7
Tel: (613) 548-2389 Fax (613) 548-1381
Email: CAIR@kgh.kari.net www.CAIR.ca