Farms provide children countless opportunities for fun and learning. Many who grew up in agriculture would agree that there is no better place to be raised than on a farm. The chance to learn the value of hard work and understand production agriculture is priceless.
The life of every child is also priceless, though, and unfortunately, farms can be a dangerous place for young people. The National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety recently released its 2022 fact sheet on childhood injuries, and the statistics are sobering. Every three days, a child in the United States dies in an agriculture-related incident. Each day, about 33 children are injured in agriculture-related incidents, and around one-third of emergency room visits tied to agriculture involve injured children.
Once youth are old enough to work on the farm, the risks are still present. Between 2011 and 2020, agriculture had the most occupational fatalities across all industries for people 17 years old and younger. From 2001 to 2015, 48% of all fatal injuries of young workers took place in agricultural jobs.
Tractors and all-terrain/utility vehicles (ATV or UTV) are the leading cause of fatal events. A concerning 47% of fatalities among youth involved transportation. Youth under the age of 16 are 12 times more likely than adults to be injured or killed while riding or driving an ATV.
Machinery was involved in another 20% of childhood deaths, while violent contact with animals or other humans accounted for 13%.
The annual cost of childhood ag-related deaths in 2021 was $605 million. Injuries cost a staggering $1.4 billion. Just 9.3% of these costs represent medical expenses; the majority of the costs are associated with the long-term consequences of farm accidents, including lost quality of life and a reduced ability to work.
An estimated 893,000 youth reside on farms across the country, and about half of them work on the farm where they live. Another 265,600 non-resident youth are hired to work on farms, and more than 25 million children visit farms each year. Efforts to protect these children are well worth the time and money.
To review the full list of statistics, check out the 2022 Childhood Agricultural Injuries fact sheet. For ideas on how to improve safety on the farm, please visit the Cultivate Safety website. As adults, it is our job to do all we can to ensure that children have a positive and safe agricultural experience.