September 28, 2000 | By: Aimee D. Heald

The emphasis in farm safety is now a goal of zero injuries and deaths nationwide and in Kentucky.

"While this may sound like a lofty goal, it is a very practical goal for each and every farm family in the United States," Larry Piercy, Extension Safety Specialist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. " In fact, all of our efforts in farm safety and health should be focused on helping farm families reach that goal each and every year."

Great strides have been made in elevating the importance of farm safety and health awareness in the Commonwealth. While the Department of Agriculture Safety Grants and other state resources have contributed to this success, most of the progress is due to safety programs and efforts in local communities. They have come together with other groups and agencies to plan and carry out safety programs and activities that benefit their communities.

As in recent years, the National Safety Council no longer provides Farm Safety Week packets of information but now provides the information through their web site at The materials include news releases, fact sheets, public service announcements and a series of graphics on farm fatalities.

The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center at UK recently released information that shows a continuing decline in the annual number of agriculture deaths in Kentucky. The most recent figures reported 21 deaths in Kentucky agriculture in 1999. While the number is down from 29 last year, Agriculture continues to be the most hazardous industry in the state, with a worker death rate of 50 deaths for every 100,000 workers. The second highest industry was mining with a death rate of 38 per 100,000 workers.

The national rate for agriculture was 23 deaths per 100,000 workers. Fifty-eight percent, more than half the deaths, those over 60 years old. While the number of tractor and machinery deaths also continue to decline, they still account for 48 percent of all agricultural deaths.

Agriculture accounts for only two percent of all workers in Kentucky, but 18 percent of all occupational deaths. According to the Center, 11 deaths were related to tractors and machinery with only four tractor overturn deaths verses an average of 14 tractor overturn deaths per year during the previous five years. In five of the deaths, the individual fell from the tractor and was run over by the tractor or an attachment.

"Although the number of tractor overturns are down this year, it is not a reason for celebration since less than one-third of the tractors in the state have a Roll Over Protective Structure, which are 98 percent effective in preventing tractor overturn death," Piercy said. "Our best estimate is that another 40 to 50 percent of the tractors in the state could be retrofitted with an approved ROPS."

Piercy said the Pilot ROPS Promotion Program in Barren and Fleming Counties has been effective in increasing the sales of ROPS and heightening the awareness of the importance of ROPS in preventing tractor deaths.

If you or someone in your county are interested in learning more about this program safety contact Piercy or your county Cooperative Extension office.


Larry Piercy 859-257-3000