Public Release: 

Injury death rate for Canadian farm children aged 1-6 higher than national average

National statistics reveal alarming pattern of avoidable deaths, says Queen's researcher

Queen's University

The injury death rate for young children who live on farms is almost twice that for all young children in Canada, according to a study released today by the Canadian Agricultural Injury Surveillance Program (CAISP), a national initiative coordinated from Queen's that monitors and identifies farm injury patterns.

The study, which spans a period from 1990 to 2000, shows an average of 10 children aged 1-6 die in accidents each year on Canadian farms and that many others have serious injuries requiring hospitalization. Most significantly, the study reveals a pattern in the types of child-related farm accidents across Canada, a finding that could eventually help reduce the frequency and severity of child-related farm injuries.

"Our data show that just three causes of injury in young children account for three quarters of all fatalities: a child bystander being run over by farm machinery, a child being an extra rider on a tractor and then being run over after falling from the machine, and a child drowning," says Dr. Robert Brison, Director of the CAISP and professor of Emergency Medicine at Queen's University. "In the 'run over' fatalities, these tragedies are made more difficult by the fact that it is generally the parent who is the driver running over the child."

"When these tragic events occur, I think they are seen as freak accidents," notes Dr. Brison. "But in our data we are seeing the same patterns of injury occur repeatedly across the country. We believe these deaths are fully preventable."

"Through our Coroner's investigations we are aware of the tragic number of young children who are killed each year on Ontario farms," says Dr. Barry McLellan, Deputy Chief Coroner of Ontario. "The CAISP's findings will help the farming industry create new strategies and guidelines for preventing childhood agricultural injuries and help make farms a safer place for everyone."

Dr. Brison recommends that very young children never be permitted to enter farm worksites; that safe play areas, separate from the work site, be set aside as part of the farm residence; and that other feasible methods of providing child care for young children be developed in farming communities.

"The farming community needs to recognize the importance of workplace hazards to very young children and be supported in finding solutions to protect children," says Dr. Brison.

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The Canadian Agricultural Injury Surveillance Program (CAISP) is a national program funded by the Canadian Agriculture Safety Association (CASA). CAISP is a collaborative program run by organizations from across Canada. It is coordinated from a national office at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. The people and organizations that contribute to CAISP include representation from researchers, government agencies, and the agricultural industry.

For a complete list of major findings and CAISP reports on agricultural injury occurrence: www.CAISP.ca

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