WASHINGTON — A newly updated online tool is providing a clearer picture of injuries in agriculture.
AgInjuryNews.org enables users to search the largest database of publicly available U.S. agricultural injury and fatality reports, getting a near real-time snapshot of the distribution and nature of trauma incidents, both nationally and locally.
“The innovation here is the combination of capturing, coding, and redistributing publicly available data on agricultural injuries and fatalities, primarily mined from media reports, and coupled with relevant prevention materials,” said project leader Bryan Weichelt, Ph.D., an associate research scientist with the National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute.
Insurers, lenders, agricultural employers, government statisticians, media professionals, educators, policy-makers and researchers are using AgInjuryNews.org to guide research priorities, safety initiatives, and public policy.
Anyone can set up a free account and search thousands of unique incidents, including more than 600 in 2018 alone. To create an account, visit www.AgInjuryNews.organd click “Register.”
The original version of AgInjuryNews.org was launched in 2015. New features and design changes include an interactive map display, more data granularity for search and filters, and customizable email alerts.
Weichelt announced the redesigned system June 25 in Des Moines, Iowa, during the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health annual conference.
“Custom email alerts allow users to choose what types of injury reports they want to see and how often they want to receive them,” Weichelt said. “For example, someone might want weekly reports of ATV-related adult injuries, or skid steer-related youth injuries from a particular state or region.”
Farmers and ranchers represent less than 2 percent of the population and are dispersed geographically. Agriculture’s decentralized nature and diversity of work practices contributes to it being one of the most hazardous occupations, and makes injury surveillance difficult. There is no central repository of agricultural injury data, and federal childhood ag injury surveillance has ended.
“AgInjuryNews.org is helping to standardize the collection and analyses of injury occurring on farms and ranches across the United States by adhering to national standards for coding and describing agricultural injury,” said Dennis Murphy, Ph.D., Nationwide Insurance Professor Emeritus, Penn State University.
In the absence of a national surveillance program for agriculture-related injuries among U.S. adults and children, news media and similar reports have become increasingly valuable for ag safety stakeholders.
“Reports of agricultural injuries appear in the media almost on a daily basis,” said Risto Rautiainen, Ph.D., director of the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health. “Many organizations collect and use these ‘press clippings’ but for the first time, Dr. Weichelt and his team have created a publicly accessible website where anyone can search for injury cases of interest to them in a well-designed web interface. This is of great help for those of us interested in agricultural injury prevention.”
Weichelt acknowledges that there are limitations to gleaning injury data from news reports, including the fact that not all agricultural fatalities are reported in the media. Non-fatal injuries are thought to be particularly underreported.
Funding for this project was provided by generous donors as well as by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, the Dr. Dean Emanuel Endowment and the National Farm Medicine Center.
— National Farm Medicine Center
For more articles concerning farm safety, click here.