TSI: Tractor Safety Initiative: Costs of Tractor Operator Injuries from Overturns and Highway Collisions (follow up) and ongoing, related activities focused on at-risk and high-risk regional populations

Completed Pilot Project

Henry Cole, EdD

In 2004, the NIOSH Agricultural Safety and Health Centers launched an initiative to conduct research on the consequences of and approaches to control agricultural tractor-related injuries. 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 nonfatal 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 as follows:
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).
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.
Researchers from the University of Kentucky, Colorado State University, University of Iowa, North
Carolina State University, University of California (Davis), and NIOSH Morgantown, Division of Safety
Research worked on 12 projects related to these aims. The results of this effort and similar studies are necessary for calculating the cost-effectiveness of educational, incentive, policy, and legislative intervention programs designed to retrofit non-ROPS tractors with ROPS and seatbelts or replace them with ROPS-equipped tractors.