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Agricultural Runovers in Canada: Overview

Updated July 2008

Agricultural equipment runovers are second only to machine rollovers as a cause of death on Canadian farms and ranches. They are the fourth most frequent reason people are hospitalized for machine-related agricultural injuries.

Between 1990 and 2004, 313 people were killed in agricultural runovers. From April 1990 to March 2000 there were 784 hospitalizations due to runover injuries. Runovers represented 18.7% of all agricultural fatalities and 5.2% of all hospitalizations.

There are five types of runover scenarios:

1. Extra rider – where an extra rider falls from a tractor or other agricultural machine and is then runover by the machine or by an implement or wagon towed by it.

2. Fallen operator – where an operator falls from a tractor or other agricultural machine and is then runover by the machine or by an implement or wagon towed by it.

3. Bystander – where a bystander (often a child) is runover by a vehicle or agricultural machine because the driver is unaware of his/her presence or cannot avoid the collision.

4. Unmanned (alighted operator) – where an unmanned tractor or other agricultural machine slips into gear or rolls down an incline running over a person (usually the operator) standing in its path.

5. Unmanned (improper start) – where an operator bypass starts or ground starts a tractor or other agricultural machine and someone is then runover by it.

Young children are the age group most frequently involved in fatal extra rider and bystander runovers. Children under ten years old represent 55.1% of the extra rider and bystander runover fatalities and 28.2% of the hospitalizations for those types of runover events.

Farmers aged 60 and over are especially likely to be involved in unmanned alighted operator and improper start runovers. They represent only 14.4% of Canada’s total farm population (2001), but comprise 63.7% of the fatalities and 48.4% of the hospitalizations due to unmanned runovers.

To reduce the incidence of runover injuries, young children should be closely supervised at all times and kept away from the farmyard and driveway. Extra riders are very vulnerable to sustaining a fatal injury. Children should never be taken on agricultural machines as extra riders. Extra riders of any age must not be allowed on agricultural machines unless there are manufacturer-designed passenger workstations or seats available. Alighted operators should not stand in the path of a tractor that is running, even if it has been left in neutral.

Dr. Rob Brison, the director of The Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting believes that “Runover injuries are one of the most serious and perhaps the most preventable causes of injury in agriculture. If small children were kept away from the agricultural work site at all times, and if extra riders were not permitted on tractors and other agricultural machines, the majority of these runovers would not occur.”

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