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Too Many Children Still Dying on Canada’s Farms

Winnipeg, January 24, 2013: According to the most recent report from Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting (CAIR), an average of 13 children die every year as a result of agricultural incidents in Canada. While the number of child deaths on farms appears to be decreasing slightly, that number is still too high.

The report shows that between 1990 and 2008, almost 250 children under 15 years of age were killed in agricultural incidents. Between 2000 and 2008, the number of child fatalities per year fell to an average of 10 deaths per year, down from an average of 16 deaths per year in the previous 10 years. While this drop is encouraging, the actual fatality rate of children adjusted for population has only decreased an average of 0.4 per cent annually.

CAIR co-chair Pamela Fuselli of Parachute Canada says “children on farms and ranches are very 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.”

Fuselli says parents must take responsibility for ensuring all tasks assigned to children are appropriate for their age and abilities. “Never take children of any age as extra riders on tractors and other farm machinery,” she stresses.

Although 71 per cent of the child agricultural fatalities were work-related, in almost eight out of 10 cases, the victim was not actually performing farm tasks, but was killed by someone else (usually an adult) who was engaged in agricultural work. This would include incidences such as a child passenger falling from a tractor, or a combine operator reversing and hitting a child bystander. In about 20 per cent of the work-related fatalities, the child victim was working.

Eighty-one per cent of the children who were killed on farms were male. Seventy-three per cent were the children of farm owners or operators. Another 10 per cent were child visitors and nine per cent were relatives of farm owner/operators.

Almost four out of 10 children aged 14 and younger died as the result of being struck or run over by a machine (tractor, off-road vehicle, motor vehicle or a wagon or trailer) followed by drowning (16 per cent), machine rollovers (12 per cent), animal-related incidents (six per cent), being caught in or under an object (five per cent) and being struck by a non-machine object (four per cent).

At least 45 per cent of child deaths on farms occurred close to the farm house (ie, farm yard, driveway, barn and sheds). “It is especially crucial for adults to keep preschool children away from farm work at all times,” says Fuselli. “An adult who is engaged in agricultural tasks cannot supervise a preschool child adequately at the work site.”

For the complete report Agricultural Fatalities in Canada 1990–2008, or to view a summary document, go to CAIR’s website at: www.cair-sbac.ca.

Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting (CAIR) was established in 1995 (formerly the Canadian Agricultural Injury Surveillance Program) to provide one of the only sources of national agricultural injury data in Canada. CAIR is funded by the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) through Growing Forward, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative.

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For more information, contact:

Michelle French Lancaster
Communications Officer
(T): 1-877-452-2272