A total of eight lives were reported lost in Virginia due to farm work-related accidents in 2010 — six fewer than in 2009.
Tractor overturns and all-terrain vehicle accidents accounted for four fatalities, while other tractor or equipment issues and collisions involving farm equipment led to the additional four, according to unofficial statistics from Virginia Farm Bureau.
Farm Bureau recorded no 2010 fatalities resulting from animals or tractor and equipment runovers.
For the past 16 years, tractor overturns have led to 40 percent of Virginia farm deaths per year — the most of any accident category Farm Bureau monitors. Rollover protective structures, or ROPs, and seat belts can help prevent deaths due to tractor overturns.
"With tractor rollovers still causing the majority of fatalities, we have a lot more work to do," said Jimmy Maass, Farm Bureau safety coordinator. "Getting more farmers to install a ROPS and wear seat belts will go a long way toward reducing these numbers further.
"It’s also important that farmers do all they can to make themselves visible while traveling on the roads by utilizing slow moving vehicle emblems, reflective tape, warning lights and escort vehicles. Taking a few extra minutes to make sure you are operating as safely as possible will save you so much more in the long run."
Virginia Farm Bureau has kept unofficial records of farm fatalities and injuries occurring in the state since 1994. According to the organization’s 16-year totals, 103 people have died when tractors overturned; 55 were involved in unspecified tractor or equipment mishaps; and 43 were run over by tractors or other farm equipment. The remaining 58 fatalities were attributed to operating farm equipment on public roads and to incidents involving animals and ATVs.