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Agricultural Injuries in Canadian Children: Overview

Updated July 2008

Between 1990 and 2004, 209 children under fifteen years old were killed in agricultural injury events. From April 1990 to March 2000 an additional 1,886 children were hospitalized for treatment of agricultural injuries. Agricultural injuries in children comprised 12.5% of all agricultural fatalities and 12.7% of all hospitalizations for agricultural injuries.

74.2% of the child fatalities were work-related. Of the work-related fatalities, 73.5% involved an adult who was engaged in agricultural work. (For example, cases where a child extra rider fell from a tractor, or where a pick up truck reversed over a child bystander.) In 26.5% of the work-related fatalities, the child victim was working.

For children under fifteen, bystander runovers, extra rider runovers and drownings were the most common causes of agricultural fatalities. Bystander runovers and extra river runovers together accounted for 40.2% of child fatalities. Drownings were also a significant cause of death, representing 14.8% of all fatal agricultural injuries in children under fifteen, and 44.4% of all non-work related agricultural fatalities. The most common causes of hospitalized agricultural injuries in children were falls from height, working and playing with animals, and entanglement. Falls from height were especially frequent in five to nine year olds.

Children under age five are particularly vulnerable to fatal or hospitalized agricultural injuries. 46.4% of all childhood agricultural fatalities and 25% of all childhood agricultural hospitalizations occurred in preschool children.

It is important to keep children away from the farm or ranch work site and agricultural hazards until they are old enough to be assigned age-appropriate tasks. They should then be provided with adequate supervision, safety equipment and task-specific training. Children of any age should not be taken as extra riders on tractors and other farm machinery.

It is crucial for adults to supervise preschool children closely at all times. An adult who is engaged in agricultural tasks cannot supervise a preschool child adequately in the work site.

Dr. Will Pickett, Co-Director for The Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting states that, “Children on farms and ranches are most vulnerable to injury. It is important that parents make a concerted effort to keep their children away from harm until they can participate in agricultural activities safely. It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that all tasks assigned to children are appropriate for their ages and abilities.”

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