Farm deaths drop in 2014
By Tom Collins
Last year was one of the least deadly for Ontario farmers. There were 11 on-farm farm-related deaths in the province, down from 19 in 2013 and a dramatic decrease from the average of 29 farm deaths each year from 1990 to 2008.
There were only two safer years since 1990, when fatality records started being kept. There were 10 fatalities in 2009 and the best year, 2012, saw only eight fatalities, including a farmer struck by lightning on his farm.
Last year, 10 of the 11 on-farm farm-related deaths occurred in Western Ontario.
Dean Anderson, agriculture program manager with Workplace Safety & Prevention Services, said the trend is going in the right direction and credited farmers practising better safety techniques and newer and safer farm equipment.
Anderson was surprised that none of the deaths this year occurred during the late harvest season, when stressed and tired farmers were in their tractors for long hours at a time to get the crops off.
Historically, most fatalities occur during spring planting and in the fall. Not including peak work periods, a Farm Journal survey of 1,600 farmers found that 56 per cent of farmers work 10 to 14 hours a day, while 17 per cent work 15 hours or more.
Tractors, combines and harvesters were still the leading cause of death. Six of the 11 Ontario deaths in 2014 were tractor-related. The most at-risk were adult males.
Ten of the 11 deaths were men from ages 27 to 87. The average age of victims was 49.
There were also six road fatalities off-farm last year that involved vehicles colliding with farm equipment on roadways.
All six accidents occurred in Western Ontario and none of the victims were farmers.