Science briefs: Fatal injuries to children on farms
Farm children between the ages of 10 and 15 have the highest rate of fatal farm injuries in California, according to a study by Dr. Marc Schenker, Professor of Medicine at UC Davis and Director of the UC Agricultural Health and Safety Center at Davis.
Injuries involving machinery are the leading cause of farm fatalities among children in California, and are 100 times more likely to be the cause of a fatal farm injury than a non-farm death. While the rate of fatal injuries to children in California agriculture was lower than for midwestern states where it has been studied, the toll is still disturbing because the deaths are preventable. Many of the machinery-related injuries are the result of children operating equipment that is not designed for them, or that lacks proper safeguards.
“Our findings suggest two immediate priorities,” Schenker said. “Further study is needed to determine what causes these accidents and how to prevent them. They may involve human behaviors, engineering designs and environmental factors. In addition, the data should be used in an outreach effort to inform farm and farmworker families of hazards to children.”