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Agricultural Runovers in Canada: Unmanned Machine Runovers

Updated July 2008

Unmanned machine runovers can be further classified into alighted operator runovers and improper start runovers. Alighted operator runovers occur when 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. Improper start runovers take place when someone is runover after an operator bypass starts or ground starts a tractor or other machine.

Between 1990 and 2004, 113 people were killed in alighted and improper start runovers. From April 1990 to March 2000 an additional 192 people were hospitalized for injuries sustained in these runover events. Of the 113 unmanned machine fatalities, 77.9% were alighted operator runovers and 22.1% were improper start runovers.

Together, alighted operator and improper start runovers are the most frequent cause of runover fatalities and the second most frequent cause of hospitalized runover injuries. They represent 36.1% of all runover fatalities and 24.5% of all runover hospitalizations.

Farmers aged 60 and over are especially likely to be involved in these types of 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 alighted operator and improper start runovers.

To avoid these types of runovers, parked tractors and any attached equipment should be immobilized to prevent unintentional movement. If parking on a slope is absolutely necessary, operators should not work in the potential path of the machine. The practice of bypass starting a machine by short-circuiting its ignition system is associated with a very high incidence of fatal runovers. Electrical and braking systems of tractors and other farm machines should be maintained properly.

Dr. Rob Brison, Director of The Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting, states that, “Many of these injuries occur when braking systems fail, allowing a tractor to move forwards. Proper maintenance of braking systems is essential. Also, operators should never start a tractor improperly or leave it in gear.”

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