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Agricultural Injuries in Canadian Children Under 5 Years Old

Updated July 2008

Preschool children under five years of age are extremely vulnerable to fatal agricultural injuries. The most frequent causes of fatalities among very young children were bystander runovers, drownings and extra rider events. 40.4% of runover events in preschool children resulted in the death of the child.

Animal-related incidents, machine entanglements, falls from height, runovers and exposure to toxic substances were the most common reasons for hospitalized injuries in this age group. Entanglements frequently caused serious, permanently disabling injuries, such as amputations.

Preschool children comprise about 5.4% of the Canadian farm population (2001). Between 1990 and 2004, 97 children under five years old were killed in agricultural injury events (5.8% of all fatalities). From April 1990 to March 2000 an additional 471 preschool children were hospitalized for treatment of agricultural injuries (3.1% of all hospitalizations). Children in the youngest age group represented 46.4% of the agricultural fatalities and 25% of the agricultural hospitalizations in children under fifteen years old.

To reduce the incidence of fatalities and hospitalized injuries in preschool children, they should be kept well away from farm and ranch work sites and water hazards. Young children should not be allowed to play near operating agricultural machinery and equipment, or to ride as passengers on tractors and other agricultural machines.

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.

Louise Hagel, collaborator with The Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting states that, “Children need to be kept away from agricultural work activities, especially at a young age when they do not have the skills to assess danger. Fencing off dangerous work areas and water hazards and providing safe fenced play areas are strategies that would result in fewer injuries to young children.”

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