Farmers, motor vehicle operators top Iowa worker deaths - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Farmers, motor vehicle operators top Iowa worker deaths

IOWA CITY (KWWL) -- Eighty-seven workers died from traumatic injuries in Iowa during 2008.

That's according to a news release from the University of Iowa that sites the Iowa Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation, or IA FACE.

That figure is above the five-year average, which is 85 fatalities. And 87 may not be the final total for 2008.

"Of the fatalities we know about so far for 2008, a total of 28 farmers and farm workers lost their lives working on farms in Iowa, 20 motor vehicle operators died at work in crashes on Iowa roads, and 16 workers died at major construction or remodeling projects," Madsen said. "Farming and transportation industries continue to account for the bulk of Iowa worker fatalities," the chief investigator for IA FACE, Murray Madsen, said.

Farmers make up about one-third of all traumatic work deaths in Iowa. Compared to the previous five years, 2008 shows an increase in farm-related fatalities and decrease in motor vehicle losses.

According to Madsen, the most common event (nine of the 28 deaths) leading to farm worker fatalities was the overturn of an older tractor not equipped with a rollover protective structure. The second most-common event occurred when farmers were crushed by loads or equipment that fell, such as a bale from a front-end loader, a three-point-hitch-mounted rotary cutter, or a combine header.

"The purpose of collecting information about worker fatalities is ultimately prevention," Madsen said. "We hope that by alerting workers and employers to common hazards in the workplace, we can prevent similar fatalities."

Madsen pointed out farm-related deaths occur too frequently, and after two years in a row at 25 percent below the 10-year average, 2008's farm fatality toll regressed to average. Madsen believes continued attention to issues of health and safety by farmers, community groups and organizations remains key to sustained improvement.

Descriptions of all traumatic work deaths from 1995 through 2007 are available at http://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/FACE.

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