There were six on-farm, farm-related fatalities in Ontario last year, well up from 2019’s historic low of three, according to reports gathered by Farmers Forum. Two were in Eastern Ontario.
Farm fatalities have been trending downwards for years, with recent numbers (nine fatalities in 2018 and 10 in 2017) well below the 29 fatalities per year average between 1990 and 2008. A Globe and Mail investigation in 2017 found that across Canada, farming was the third most lethal profession per capita. Commercial fishing and forestry were first and second, respectively.
Last year, Agricultural Health and Safety Specialist Rob Gobeil with the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association noted that fatalities in 2019 were likely a fluke, and that advancing technology in agriculture often creates hazards as often as it removes them. Larger machines are more likely to cause fatal rollovers, and faster augurs have a lower risk of farmers falling in but pose a greater hazard to anyone that does, he noted.
Child fatalities are most tragic but are trending downward. One child died in an on-farm, farm-related accident in Ontario last year. A four-year old was hit by a piece of farm equipment and killed at West Perth, Perth County, in September.
There were two on-farm, farm-related deaths in Eastern Ontario.
• 29-year old Chesterville-area dairy farmer Mike Von Gunten was pinned under a TMR feed mixer on May 7.
• 22-year old Alfred-Plantagenet man Maxime Malette, was killed on Feb. 3 when his excavator turned over into a pool of water. He was working on a farm in the area at the time.
Ontario’s six on-farm, farm-related fatalities also included:
• 42-year old Milverton-area Mennonite farmer Timothy Wagler died after a falling hay bale struck and killed him. He was working with his 14-year old son at the time.
• A 77-year old Bradford-area vegetable farmer Mario Palumbo was run over by his own tractor and killed on Aug. 15. He was a member of the Holland Marsh Growers Association and well-known and respected as a vegetable grower.
• A four-year old was killed on a West Perth-area farm on Sept. 7 after being struck by a piece of farm equipment.
• 75-year old Brant County farmer Donald Gunn was run over and killed by his own tractor on Sept. 21. He had stepped out of it while unloading soybeans. It rolled forward, and he fell underneath it trying to get in and stop it.
A difficult year in many ways, 2020 was marred by other farm-related tragedies, including three Quebec children who died after falling out of the bucket of a tractor on the way to a parade. Three migrant farm workers in Western Ontario died of COVID-19.