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Research Reports

Graduate level research conducted by Research Assistants in Purdue's Agricultural Safety and Health Program has resulted in reports that might be of interest to professionals working in the field. The extensively reviewed literature, research methods, presentations of research data, conclusions, recommendations and bibliographies offer a valuable tool for completing additional research or developing strategies for preventing agricultural-related injuries and losses. Several of the researchers are now employed full time in the agricultural safety and health profession.

Obtaining Research Reports

To obtain reports, contact us by mail, phone, fax or email. You may also be able to obtain reports through the Indiana Rural Safety and Health Council website.

Available Research Reports

Sell, W.E. 1984. The Nature of Power Take-Off Accidents. Master of Science.

Abstract: Review of literature concerning farm injury data, the frequency of PTO-related injuries, types of injuries, role of shielding in PTO accidents, machines involved in PTO accidents, standards for PTO equipment, and an overview of the development of PTO equipment. Presentation of data collected in a study conducted of 64 non-fatal power takeoff accidents covering the human factors associated with the accidents, the environmental conditions at the time of the accidents, the machines involved in the accidents, and selected case histories. Evaluation of PTO master shield usage on 578 John Deere tractors and 279 other makes of farm tractors. Evaluation of PTO pictorial warning decals. Summary, conclusions, observations, recommendations and a bibliography.

Campbell, W.P. 1987. The Condition of Agricultural Driveline System Shielding and Its Impact on Injuries and Fatalities. Master of Science.

Abstract: Review of literature concerning the history of the power takeoff, studies of non-fatal and fatal power takeoff injuries, studies of the condition of power takeoff component shielding, and a review of power takeoff safety signs. Presentation of data collected in a study involving 100 non-fatal power takeoff injuries (includes the 64 reported on by Sell, 1984), covering the human factors associated with the injury, the environmental conditions, the machinery involved, and the injuries received by the victims. Presentation of data collected in a study of 25 fatal power takeoff accidents covering the human factors associated with the accidents, the environmental conditions at the time of the accidents, the machinery involved in the accidents, and the cause of death of the victims. Summary of a detailed investigation of power takeoff component shielding on 1,309 agricultural implements, including examination of the implement input driveline (IID) shielding, implement input connection (IIC) shielding, and pedestal shielding. Investigation of the presence of safety signs on the power takeoff driveline and components during the investigation of the condition of shielding on agricultural implements. Discussion, recommendations, observations, and a bibliography.

Wilkinson, T.L. 1987. Evaluation of Self-Propelled Agricultural Machines Modified for Operators with Serious Physical Handicaps. Master of Science.

Abstract: The primary goal of this study was to identify and evaluate modifications made to self-propelled agricultural machines for farmers and agricultural workers with serious physical handicaps, and to document results for use by rehabilitation professionals. The study, with funding from the Department of Education’s National Institute of Handicapped Research, involved the following major activities: (1) evaluation of 29 self-propelled agricultural machines equipped with modifications for physically disabled operators; (2) a survey of 500 farmers and agricultural workers with physical disabilities to identify modifications allowing them to operate essential agricultural machines; (3) site-visits to 17 farms to evaluate machine modifications and interview farmers with physical disabilities. A direct product of this research project was the publication of the resource manual, Modified Agricultural Equipment: Manlifts for Farmers with Physical Handicaps.

Shutske, J.M. 1988. Prevention and Suppression of Self-Propelled Grain Combine Fires. Doctor of Philosophy.

Abstract: Review of literature concerning the problem of combine fires, theories of fire extinguishment, fire extinguisher research, and mathematical modeling in fire protection. Nature and magnitude of the combine fire problem through investigations of 50 combine fires and the summary of 122 Indiana combine fires, case studies, and the National Fire Incident Reporting System Data. Combine fire modeling Fire extinguisher tests on a combine using Halon 1211 and ABC dry chemical extinguishing agents with the use of fire detectors. Conclusions, recommendations, and a bibliography.

Purschwitz, M.A. 1989. Development of a Data Collection System For Farm-Related Accidents Resulting in Injury. Doctor of Philosophy.

Abstract: Review of literature on farm accident data collection and the need for data. Identification of additional farm accident data sources. Summary and evaluation of current sources of farm accident data. Summary and evaluation of general occupational injury surveillance systems. Summary and evaluation of non-occupational injury surveillance systems. Summary and evaluation of health care system reporting. Opinions and preferences on farm accident data collection and management from a survey of 63 Extension specialists and Farm Bureau personnel, and 41 individuals selected from the NIFS membership list including: insurance representatives, consultants, retired safety specialists, and industry engineers. Development of a coroner and police reporting form for farm accidents. Review of a volunteer farm accident clipping program. Development of a hospital-based injury surveillance system. Denominator data: farm population. Data management: Development of personal computer database management program and procedure to code data into a common format for entry. Application of the data management system with the use of Indiana farm accident data. Conclusions, recommendations, future research needs, and state and national initiatives.

Wilkinson, T.L. 1991. Power Take-Off Entanglement Risk Factor Analysis for Grain Augers. Doctor of Philosophy.

Abstract: This study was completed to develop an expert system model to assist PTO driven grain auger manufacturers in identifying the risk factors associated with their equipment and to educate farmers on their risk of being involved in a PTO entanglement. The development of the expert system involved a five step process which included: 1) Identification of the problem, 2) Conceptualization of the problem, 3) Formalization of the knowledge, 4) Implementation, and 5) Testing of the model. A review of literature and the summarization of a database containing 150 PTO entanglement investigations that have been completed by Purdue researchers since 1982 identified grain augers as being most commonly involved in PTO entanglements. A summarization of 53 auger and elevator PTO entanglements from the Purdue database was completed to identify the risk factors associated with the use of this equipment. These risk factors were used in developing the computer model. Description of expert system is provided.

Sheldon, E.J. 1992. Review and Analysis of Fatal and Nonfatal Farm Work-Related Injuries Involving Children and Adolescents Through Age 17. Master of Science.

Abstract: From farm injury records collected in Indiana and Wisconsin, a total of 460 fatal farm work-related injuries were identified during a 21-year period (1970 — 1990). Records obtained from the National Safety Council collected through a 31-state survey included 756 injuries involving children through age 14 — all but four were nonfatal. Results showed a steady decline in the frequency of fatal injuries to children and adolescents over time. A shift in the causes of fatal injuries was also observed. Very young children tended to be injured by tractor and equipment runovers, while older children were more likely involved in tractor rollovers. Runovers became much more common in the later years of the study and tractor rollovers declined by nearly twice the frequency of all other fatal injuries. It was concluded that a more precise method of obtaining farm injury data, particularly nonfatal injuries, would enable researchers and farm safety specialists to better understand the causes of farm injuries to children. Additional attention should be given to educational programs which focus on parents of young children and stress the dangers associated with exposure to farm machinery, especially as extra riders on tractors.

Sheldon, E.J. 1992. Alternative Enterprise and Off-farm Employment for Farmers with Disabilities. Master of Science.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine off-farm employment opportunities and explore the feasibility of farm-based alternative enterprises for farmers who have experienced permanent physical disabilities. Two major approaches were utilized in this research. First, a mail survey concerning off-farm employment and alternative enterprises was sent to 1700 farmers with physical disabilities on the Breaking New Ground Resource Center mailing list. Second, on-site visits were conducted with over 50 selected farmers with physical disabilities to determine their experiences with off-farm employment and alternative enterprises, and to develop successful case histories. Both off-farm employment and alternative enterprises were shown to be viable income producers for farmers with physical disabilities. Thirty-seven percent of the 42 farmers returning the survey have looked for off-farm employment since their disability, and twenty-nine percent reported having an off-farm job. The most serious barriers to off-farm employment for the surveyed group included the severity of disability and the lack of local jobs. Twenty-seven percent of the participating framers reported having some type of alternative on-farm enterprise which contributed to family income, with forty-one percent indicating in starting or expanding alternative enterprises.

Freeman, S.A. 1993. A Knowledge System for the Selection and Documentation of Rural Assistive Technology. Doctor of Philosophy.

Abstract: A prototype knowledge system for the selection and documentation of rural assistive technology was developed to aid professionals working with farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers with physical disabilities. The knowledge system (constructed using HyperCard, an object-oriented-like environment that combines hypertext and database features) consists of a hypertext database of rural assistive technology examples and an accompanying decision support system that helps users identify solution alternatives to meet the needs of their clientele. The usefulness of this knowledge system as a novel delivery method for presenting rural assistive technology information to extension personnel and rehabilitation professionals was tested and evaluated by a group of representative end users (U.S. Department of Agriculture's AgrAbility staff members). This was done using a statistical control group study (consisting of two test cases) and an evaluation questionnaire. Using the knowledge system significantly reduced the time required for end users to obtain solution alternatives and increased their confidence in the solutions they obtained. All of the questionnaire respondents considered the system to be easy to use, practical for real life use, and useful as an educational aid. Additionally, the response was unanimous that the knowledge system should be completed and distributed to the programs providing rehabilitation services to farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers.

Ziyou, Y. 1993. The Design of Farm-Related Accident Only Disability Income Insurance. Doctor of Philosophy.

Abstract: The generalobjective of this research was to develop Farm Work-Related Disability Income (FWDI) insurance policies which will appeal to farmers and agricultural workers while allowing the insurance companies involved to at least break-even. Modern mathematical models in insurance are reviewed and applied to develop the optimal insurance coverage for FWDI insurance. The moral hazard problem in insurance is controlled by “incomplete coverage.” While the income loss due to a farm work-related injury is defined as wager per day times the number of days lost due to the injury. By analyzing two data sets (the National Safety Council 1982 farm accident survey results and the 1990 Ohio agricultural Workers Compensation claims) with the direct probability approach and the econometrics modeling approach, the farm work-related injury factors were determined; the loss distribution of farm work-related injuries and the cost of FWDI insurance policies were estimated. A survey designed to determine the acceptance of the FWDI insurance policies was conducted. It was found that farmers prefer to pay $130 per year for disability income insurance with 30 days deductible and $300 weekly compensation.

Allen, P.B. 1993. An Assessment of the Risks and Safety Education Training Needs of Farmers and Ranchers with Severe Physical Disabilities. Master of Science.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine the perceived risks, and educational training needs of those individuals who are farming or ranching with a physical disability. The study was also designed to explore whether or not a farmer or rancher with a physical disability is at greater risk of injury than his or her able-bodied counterpart. A survey titled “Risks of Farming and Ranching with a Physical Disability” was developed and administered to 1,954 farmers and ranchers known to have a severe physical disability. Twenty-five percent of the respondents have had a farm-related injury they believed was the result of their physical disability. Most secondary injuries were livestock-related, primarily beef cattle. Falls were noted as the second most prevalent cause of injury, followed by hand and power tools. The survey found that non-fatal farm-related injuries of farmers with physical disabilities tended to mirror farm-related injuries of able-bodied farm operators except for the higher incidence of bruising and pressure sores occurring among the population with spinal cord injuries. The survey found that 60 of the respondents believed they were at a greater risk of being injured on their farm or ranch because of their physical disability. The participants in this study indicate a need for educational safety training to reduce their rate of injury.

Whitman, S.D. 1994. Preventing Tractor Related Injuries Among Aged Farmers: Using Farm Injury Data and Formative Audience Analysis to Construct Persuasive Safety Messages. Master of Science.

Abstract: The principal goal of this research was to develop guidelines for constructing persuasive safety messages to reduce tractor-related injuries and fatalities among senior agricultural workers. Formative research of the safety-related attitudes, beliefs, and activities of farm workers age 60 and older was utilized to develop guidelines for designing persuasive safety messages and communication tools most likely to facilitate the adoption of self-protective work behaviors among senior tractor and machinery operators. The central activities of this thesis work consisted of 1) preparing a summary of farm tractor and machinery-related fatalities involving senior farm workers, and 2) conducting a national survey of senior farmers (age 60 and older). The final phase of this work involved developing guidelines for designing safety messages and communication tools for reducing tractor-related injuries and fatalities among senior farmers. Guidelines were based on formative survey research and applicable principles of behavioral change and persuasion theory identified in the research literature. Guidelines include recommendations to assist safety practitioners, Extension specialists, and farm media professionals in designing and presenting farm safety messages to the senior farmer audience.

Sheldon, E.J. 1995. CAI/Multimedia Approach to Farm Tractor and Machinery Safety Certification. Doctor of Philosophy.

Abstract: The primary goal of this project was to develop and demonstrate the educational effectiveness of a CAI/Multimedia computer program for use by youth enrolled in the Farm Tractor and Machinery Safety Certification Programs presently prescribed by the United States Department of Labor Hazardous Work Occupations in Agriculture Order. The computer program was based on Silletto and Hull's “Safe Operation of Agricultural Equipment” students' manual, currently the most widely-used material for teaching the course. Seventy-two subjects from three agricultural education classes and one group assembled at Purdue University were randomly divided with half of each group receiving traditional instructor-based training using printed text, videos, and demonstrations, and half receiving self-instruction using the computer program. All subjects were administered a participant questionnaire and pretest prior to their assignment to instruction method. Following completion of the 11 unit course, all subjects were administered a post test. Those subjects who had received computer-based instruction then completed a multimedia perception questionnaire. There was no significant difference in mean knowledge gain between instructional methods. Level of previous experience in tractor and machinery operation did not affect pretest or post test scores. Among those subjects in the computer-based group, level of computer experience did not affect pretest or post test scores. It was concluded that the CAI/Multimedia program did provide adequate instruction in safe operation of agricultural equipment since no significant difference in mean knowledge gain existed. However, it was recommended that further research was needed to determine whether hands-on experience available only through the traditional method would improve operator skills and improve the retention of knowledge gained.

Kelley, K.W. 1995. Flow Characteristics of Gravity-Flow Grain Wagons Contributing to Engulfment in Flowing Grain and Possible Intervention Strategies. Master of Science.

Abstract: The principal goal of this research was to develop intervention strategies that would potentially reduce the likelihood of fatal entrapments in gravity-flow grain wagons. A nationwide study of fatal farm work-related grain entrapments was initiated to quantify the problem of on-farm grain entrapments, to identify high risk groups, and to gain information that might enable the development of more effective intervention strategies. The study identified 235 incidences from 1964 through 1994. The incidences were identified in 23 states and in the Canadian province of Ontario. Grain transport vehicles were reported to be involved in 39 cases. Full-scale gravity-flow grain wagon experiments were conducted using a 7-8 year old female mannequin, three intervention design configurations — (1) no insert present, (2) solid (grate) insert, (3) and split outlet insert; and corn at 15-21% moisture content (wb) as the medium. Model wagon trials were conducted to characterize flow patterns that develop when grain exits a side-dump gravity-flow wagon, with and without a flat plate insert present. The thesis includes recommendations concerning the cost of a national retro-fit program, as well as measures to prevent future entrapments, and topics for additional research.

Carrabba, J.J. 1998. Effectiveness of the Indiana 4-H Tractor Program at Instilling Safe Tractor Operating Behaviors and Attitudes in Youth. Master of Science.

Abstract: The purpose of this research was to determine what impact the Indiana 4-H Tractor Program has on the safe tractor-operating behavior and attitudes of its participants. Results of the research showed that the program has a positive influence, however, there is also room for improvement. To assess the impact of the program, a group of 108 non 4-H youth that operate tractors and a group of 104 4-H Tractor Program participants were compared. The two groups were observed operating a tractor through a standard tractor-operating course and the safe tractor operating behaviors of each group were compared. Results of these observations showed that the 4-H Tractor Program participants operated tractors in a safer manner than the non 4-H Tractor Program youth. The self-reported tractor-related injury history and tractor safety attitudes of the two groups were also compared through the use of a written survey. Results of the survey found that the 4-H Tractor Program participants reported more exposure time to tractors. There was little difference between the two groups in regard to tractor-related injuries and tractor safety attitudes. Responses from the 4-H Tractor Program participants indicated a trend towards having more tractor-related close call incidents. A mail survey of past participants of the Indiana State 4-H tractor-driving contest was also conducted. The purpose of this survey was to gather feedback on the Indiana 4-H Tractor Program. There were 126 respondents to this survey for a 65.6% response rate. Respondents reported positive impressions of their experiences in the Indiana 4-H Tractor Program. Suggestions for improving the program were collected from this survey.

Kingman, Douglas, M., 1999. Prevention Strategies For Flowing Grain Entrapments In On-Farm Grain Storage Bins. Master of Science.

Abstract: A study was conducted to develop strategies that would contribute to the prevention of fatalities and injuries that occur in on-farm grain bins due to flowing grain engulfments. The study of fatalities consisted of a review of data summarized from known entrapment cases and from the initiation of a national search for additional cases. Cases documented were summarized to identify a target audience and potential contents for the development of a prototype flowing grain entrapment curriculum and recommendations for engineering intervention strategies. During the years 1964 to 1998, 181 entrapment fatalities were identified that occurred in on-farm grain bins. It was estimated that at least five farm workers or children die annually in grain bins after becoming entrapped in flowing grain. There was evidence to suggest that non-fatal entrapments also regularly occurred and were not reported or identified by previous surveillance efforts. The phenomenon appeared to be concentrated in the major corn-producing states. Twenty-four percent of the identified victims were 3 to 15 years old, while 31% of the victims were 56 to 86 years of age. Children under the age of 16 died most often in June, August and November, while adults suffocated more often in January and November. Ninety-six percent of the victims were male. Stored corn was involved in 53% of the cases where the type of grain was identified. For the cases where the activity of the victim was noted during the entrapment, 76% were unloading grain. It was determined that out-of-condition grain was the most commonly identified causative factor. A prototype version of the on-farm flowing grain entrapment curriculum developed as part of the study was based upon a review of existing educational resources, examination of specific engulfment cases, visits to entrapment sites, and discussions with agricultural safety experts, and first-response personnel. Portions of the curriculum were field tested with audiences at extension events, Purdue University farm employees, and students enrolled in Purdue’s Agricultural Safety and Health class. Recommendations concerning engineering intervention strategies were presented to key manufacturers of grain storage structures for feedback. These recommendations included the need to explore issues related to confined space entry, to reduce the potential for grain spoilage, and to reduce the level of accessibility for children.

Sutherlin, Natalie S. 2001. Summary of Fatal Farm Work-Related Injuries to Children and Adolescents in Indiana and Wisconsin from 1970-1999. Master of Science.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency and causality of farm work-related fatalities involving children and adolescents age 17 and younger in Indiana and Wisconsin from 1970 to 1999. Using the Farm and Agricultural Injury Classification (FAIC) Code, 536 cases in Indiana and Wisconsin were selected for analysis. Cases were analyzed to determine frequency, cause of injury, and primary agent and to identify trends over the decades 1970-1999. Findings show there has been a steady decline in the frequency of fatal farm work-related injuries to children and adolescents in Indiana and Wisconsin during the 30-year period analyzed. Ages two and 15 were the most common ages of fatalities. The frequency of tractor rollover fatalities decreased from 77 fatalities in the 1970s to 14 fatalities in the 1990s. The frequency of tractor and equipment runovers also decreased from 78 fatalities in the 1970s to 45 fatalities in the 1990s. However, the proportion of all fatalities related to runovers nearly doubled. Recommendations resulting from the study included the need to increase the emphasis on the hazards associated with extra riders on agricultural tractors and equipment and provide direct safety information to the parents of small children living on farms concerning potential areas of risk.

Kingman, Douglas, M., 2002. Utilizing a Systems Approach to Develop an On-farm Grain Storage Hazard Assessment Tool. Doctor of Philosophy.

Abstract: The goal of this research was to address the problem of engulfments in flowing grain that occur in on-farm metal grain storage bins. This was accomplished by utilizing a systems approach to identify contributing factors to engulfment which were used to develop a 28-question hazard assessment tool. A numerically weighted high- and low-risk response accompanied each question, the sum of which resulted in a potential-risk-of-engulfment score for on-farm grain handling and storage systems. The assessment tool was pilot tested using nine farms where previous engulfment incidents had been reported and nine farms with no history of engulfment. A revised version was used to score an additional 26 farms with unknown histories of engulfment and by three individuals personally familiar with prior engulfment incidents. It was found that the difference between the mean of the assessment tool scores of farms with a history of engulfment and the mean of the scores of farms with no prior reported engulfment incident was significant (p=0.001). It was found that the management of grain during storage and an individual’s perception of risk and willingness to avoid flowing grain hazards had the most impact on reducing the potential for an engulfment. In contrast, a history of plugging problems resulting from out-of-condition grain was not found to make a considerable difference in scores between the two groups of farms. The presence of stirring devices in bins, accommodation for lockout devices on electrical controls, and utilizing grain storage bins smaller than 20,000-bushel capacity also had little impact on the difference in scores. Based upon the level of significance of each of the 28 questions’ ability to predict an increased risk of engulfment, it was concluded that a valid response could be obtained with as few as seven questions. Recommendations concerning continued study and application of the tool were formulated including the need for additional research to evaluate the effectiveness of the tool to change the behavior of farmers who own and operate grain handling and storage equipment. Findings also contributed to the revision of a potential engineering standard for on-farm grain storage structures.

Yoder, Aaron M., 2002. Ergonomic Evaluation of Commercially Available Operator Lifts for Farmers with Disabilities. Doctor of Philosophy.

Abstract: Individuals in the agricultural population who are impacted by mobility restrictions resulting from strokes, arthritis, amputations, back injuries, and other medical conditions are capable of safely returning to work through the appropriate application of assistive or rehabilitation technology. The purpose of this study was to develop and administer a systems approach for evaluating ergonomic and safety issues related to the application of commercially available operator lifts used on agricultural and other off-road machinery to provide a means for operators with restricted mobility to gain access to the operator’s station. Input from operator lift users, objective analysis and a panel of experts were used to gain a clearer perspective of commercially available operator lift systems. Unstable seats, awkward transfers and the need for fall arresting devices were identified as concerns through on-site visits of operator lift users. Objective analysis methods, including the use of an operator lift users’ questionnaire, were used to identify key issues, such as usability of the operator lift controllers and using the operator lifts in emergency situations, which needed to be addressed. An expert panel used lift evaluation tools to identify problems with installation, wiring and troubleshooting related to operator lift systems. Based upon feedback from 60 operator lift users, spinal cord injuries were reported by 42 (75%) of the users. Forty-three (76%) of the users had full use of their upper arms. Only nine (17%) of the lift users were able to access the same piece of machinery after their injury and before they had a lift. Eight (16%) of the 49 individuals that purchased a commercially manufactured lift reported a minor injury or near injury while using their lift. Similarly, one (14%) of the seven individuals that had a locally manufactured or homemade lift reported a minor injury while using their lift. Even though it appeared that the level of safety was the same for commercially manufactured and locally fabricated lifts, commercially manufactured lifts appeared to have fewer hazards associated with them. The findings from this study can be used to justify the safety and applicability of operator lifts in agriculture, aid in the design and fabrication of future operator lifts, and develop an industrial standard on the design, fabrication and testing of operator lifts for use on off-road equipment.

Ortega, R.R., 2003. Analysis and Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the 4-H CAI/Multimedia Farm Tractor and Machinery Safety Certification Program. Master of Science.

Abstract: The purpose of this research was to evaluate the effectiveness of an interactive CD-ROM and World Wide Web (WWW) educational program, entitled Gearing Up for Safety: Production Agricultural Safety Training for Youth, to teach teenaged youth critical production agricultural safety and health-related competencies required under the Fair Labor Standards Act: Hazardous Occupations Order in Agriculture. The selected community-based teaching strategies were evaluated and compared for their effectiveness in developing knowledge, changing attitudes and behaviors and improving practices related to the safe operation of agricultural tractors and machinery.

The new curriculum was based upon a set of critical core competencies developed by the researchers and an expert panel of various stakeholders chosen for their personal interest and expertise in the areas of agricultural safety and agricultural education. A comparative field test between the computer-based curricula (CD-ROM and WWW) and a traditional instructor-based curriculum was conducted in the fall of 2002. Six geographically diverse Indiana high school agricultural science and business classrooms were used for the comparative field tests. Classrooms were divided randomly into thirds with one-third of the students receiving instruction via CD-ROM, a third receiving instruction via the WWW, and a third with a teacher in the classroom using a traditional method of instruction.

The study found there was not a significant difference in knowledge gained or change in attitudes and behaviors between students using the CD-ROM, the WWW or those learning in a traditional classroom setting. Additional findings showed that youth who participated in the computer-based curriculum had a positive attitude towards computers and their role in education. It was concluded that the new interactive curriculum was an effective method for teaching youth critical health and safety topics related to production agriculture and changing both attitudes and behaviors.

Beer, S.R. 2004. Development of a Data Management System for the Analysis of Power Take-Off Related Injuries and Fatalities. Master of Science.

Abstract: Unguarded agricultural power take-off (PTO) drivelines and related components, including secondary drivelines powered by the PTO, have been historically recognized as serious farm-related hazards that can cause severe, permanently disabling injuries and death when entanglement occurs. The lack of longitudinal data on these incidents has been a barrier for developing relevant and effective intervention strategies. The purpose of this study was to design, develop, and test a system to document, code, store, and analyze a large amount of PTO-related injury and fatality data to allow for identification of causative factors and trends that could be used in developing more effective intervention strategies. This was accomplished by first developing a standardized injury reporting form and coding system and then developing an electronic database, using Microsoft ® Access 2002, which could be used to document, store, query, and analyze PTO-related incident data. PTO-related incidents resulting in injury or fatality that were documented between 1970 and 2003 were collected and the available data were coded and entered into the database using a systematic approach. A pilot-test of the usability of the database was conducted on data collected from 92 PTO-related incidents involving children and adolescents. A summary of the findings are included. Using the validated data management system, an analysis was conducted on data collected from 674 cases entered into the database. It was determined that the data management system provided a consistent means of storing and analyzing data related to PTO-related incidents. Findings from the analysis of the data included the following: the frequency of PTO-related incidents increased from the 1970s to the 1980s, but then decreased through the 1990s and into the 2000s; PTO-related fatalities accounted for approximately 3.5 percent of all reported farm-related fatalities over the past three decades and presently account for approximately 1.1 percent of all farm-related fatalities; the 11 to 15-year-old age group had the highest frequency of cases; incidents occurred more often in the fall season; and augers, elevators, or conveyors were the type of implements most frequently involved. Recommendations to enhance intervention strategies for PTO-related safety and for future research were also included.

Kunkler, J.M. 2004. Analysis of Unintentional Childhood Injuries and Fatalities Within Old Order Anabaptist Communities and Comparison to the General and Farm Populations. Master of Science.

Abstract: Preliminary studies suggest that childhood injuries and fatalities in Old Order settings may be an increasing problem thus posing the need for better understanding of the childhood injury and fatality situation. This study’s purpose was to develop a baseline of Old Order childhood injury data for 2002, analyze it in reference to specific underlying factors, and compare injury sources and fatality rates among Old Order Anabaptist children to those of the farm and general populations. Using the Old Order Anabaptist Injury Database, 495 injuries were identified during 2002 among Old Order children under the age of 18. Of those, 217 were incurred through agriculture-related incidents. Other injury categories reporting a large percentage of injury cases were transportation, household, and recreation respectively. The primary source of injury to all children was falls and the most commonly reported nature of injury was bone fractures. The age of victim most commonly reported was 4, and peaks in injuries occurred around ages 3-4 and 14-15. Population-specific factors were involved in many of the incidents including: direct animal contact, hay hole falls, buggy crashes, and horse-drawn equipment runovers. Forty of the injuries were fatal; 14 of those being agriculture-related and 10 directly related to fire. Of the agriculture-related fatalities, 6 were caused by horse-drawn equipment runovers and the rest were attributed to a crush/pin, fall, being struck by an object, direct animal contact, or engulfment in feed/grain. The comparison of nonfatal Old Order childhood injury sources with both the general and farm-related populations showed some similarities across cultural lines. The comparison of childhood fatality rates showed the Old Order rate to be approximately 2.8 times that of the general population. In comparison with the childhood farm population fatality rate, the Old Order childhood fatality rate was nearly the same with only the primary sources of injury being different. Based upon the findings of this study, recommendations were extended for culturally sensitive intervention strategies to be used in Old Order communities by parents, employers, and children. The recommendations focus specifically on resources and actions for each group involved as well as possible topics for further research.

Metcalf, J.M. 2005. Enhancing utilization of upper limb prosthetics and assistive technology by farmers and farm workers. Master of Science.

Abstract: Farming is currently and has been historically one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. One of the more common injury types is upper limb amputations. It was estimated in this study that between 464 and 541 upper limb amputations occur annually in the farming population and that there are currently between 8,100 and 9,400 upper limb amputees in the farming population. The estimated acceptance rate of upper limb prosthesis is approximately 25% which suggests there are approximately 6,000 to 7,000 upper limb amputees who are either unable to utilize currently available prosthesis devices or have rejected their devices. An agricultural worksite assessment tool for farmers with upper limb amputations engaged in farming. The tool consisted of 85 questions that ranged from prosthesis device concerns to estimating the level of difficulty required to complete both work-related and daily living activities. A set of 15 single and multiple on-site observations were made at the farms of 15 participants in the study. In addition an expert panel consisting of 5 upper limb amputees was convened for the purpose of identifying which farm-related and independent living tasks were considered the most difficult for an upper limb amputee to perform with or without a prosthesis device. The most difficult barriers identified were related to manipulation of small objects and controls, two-handed tasks, temperature control within the device and socket and harness fit comfort. Findings were analyzed and recommendations were made for needed engineering modifications, more effective utilization of assistive technology and strategies for enhancing the rehabilitation process.


Abstract: Research was conducted to compile data on the nature and estimated frequency of deaths and injuries related to on-farm manure handling and storage facilities and to gain a better understanding of causative factors. Data were gathered by reviewing cases from published government reports, prior litigation, national and local media and other resources.

No prior studies were identified that addressed the magnitude of manure handling or storage-related fatalities and injuries, nor their causative factors.

Seventy-seven (77) fatal cases were identified that occurred in the United States between 1975 and 2004. An additional 21 injury cases and 14 international fatality cases were documented during completion of this project. Data concerning key causative factors were gathered including: the type of facility involved (pit, lagoon, swine, dairy), the age of the decedent, the activity at the time of death, the occupation at the time of death, and the reported cause of death. The data represent the largest compilation of systematically gathered information on this problem that is known to exist.

The data showed that the victim characteristics and causative factors did not reflect previously reported patterns. Previous safety efforts have primarily focused on swine operations but findings showed that 54.5% (42) of the deaths occurred in dairy operations and 44% (34) in swine operations. The data raised serious concerns about underage access to hazardous areas of farm operations including confined spaces by showing that 27% (21) of the documented deaths occurred to persons 20 years of age or younger, with 21% (16) involving persons under the age of 16.

The largest portion 34% (26), of the deaths occurred to persons conducting repairs or maintenance activities on manure handling equipment. It was found that 22% (17) of those fatally injured had entered the facility to perform an attempted rescue of another person.

Recommendations resulting from this study included the need to develop a centralized reporting system for injuries, illnesses, and deaths associated with agricultural confined spaces. Information concerning safety regulations and safe work practices contained in the OSHA confined space standard should be made available to all farm operators who own or manage confined space waste handling facilities, and they should be encouraged to implement them. Work place safety standards should include the placement of signage or warnings at the entrance to all potential confined spaces used for manure handling and storage. Efforts should be made to update and expand the relevant ASAE engineering standards and practices that apply to agricultural livestock facilities and manure handling and storage facilities. Special considerations should be given to designs that reduce the need for workers to access potentially hazardous confined spaces. Finally, the Agricultural Hazards Order restricting access to any agricultural confined space that creates an unusually high level of hazard for the teenage or youthful farm worker or family member should be fully enforced.

Racz, C.W. 2006. Assessment of current strategies for disseminating assistive technology information to farmers with disabilities. Master of Science.

Abstract: Since the introduction of the USDA-CSREES AgrAbility program through appropriations in the 1990 farm bill, a variety of methods have been utilized to disseminate information to farmers with disabilities related to farming and essentials for living. To date, no known research has been conducted to assess various dissemination strategies from the perspectives of either the farmers with disabilities needing the information or the education and rehabilitation professionals who work with them. Because of this lack of research, unfounded assumptions have been made and conclusions drawn concerning how best to deliver the needed information, and has contributed to the use of ineffective dissemination methods, thereby wasting time and valuable limited resources. This study reviewed various strategies being used for dissemination of information to farmers with (and without) disabilities related to farming, essentials for daily living, and other technical topics, in order to identify methods documented to be most effective. It conducted surveys in order to summarize the perspectives of the USDA-CSREES AgrAbility Project staff and farmers with disabilities, relating to dissemination of assistive technology information and related resources and explored the potential strengths and weaknesses of using the Internet for information dissemination to AgrAbility customers. Significant findings included: farmers most preferred receiving assistive technology information in "printed newsletters" (71%) and "printed publications" (72%); AgrAbility staff most preferred receiving "Internet-based publication access" (61%), "email" (60%), and "printed publications" (58%); many farmers (53%) perceived dissemination strategies were moving toward the Internet, and a large portion (38%) perceived that assistive technology information was generally more available than in the past; both farmers and AgrAbility staff tended to agree that farmers wanted to receive information in printed format; and findings suggested that neither age nor educational level were strong predictors of Internet use by farmers. Recommendations were made to AgrAbility Project staff with regard to what strategies for dissemination of assistive technology information and related resources would be most effective, including: implementing proper management strategies for all information resources; proper planning, creation, and maintenance of web content; and avoiding the use of resources for language translation.


Abstract:The goal of this project was to develop and test the effectiveness of a visually based instructional curriculum for use in providing farm safety training to youth with lower levels of literacy and reading comprehension skills. The research was based upon utilization of an alternative visually based version of the Gearing Up for Safety- Production Agriculture Safety Training for Youth Curriculum developed as part of this research. This format of the curriculum was developed to meet the certification training requirements of the Federal Agriculture Hazardous Occupations Order for those youth who are unprepared to successfully utilize a text based manual or computer program due to limited reading comprehension skills. Through utilization of existing visual language forms such as pictorials, photographs, signal words, color combinations, and universal symbols, it was determined that the essential components of the Gearing Up for Safety curriculum could be effectively communicated to this population with outcomes comparable to those achieved with the text based curriculum.

The original curriculum was developed utilizing 170 core competencies and core content identified by researchers at Purdue University in the Departments of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Youth Development and Agricultural Education, and a panel of external content experts. The knowledge gains were documented through the use of a validated test administered to 334 youth in Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The test scores from the visually-based version of the curriculum were compared to findings from the text- based computer curriculum and the effectiveness was assessed.

Although there was a significant difference in mean knowledge gains between the visually-based and text-based curriculum it was determined after calculating the effect size, that the difference between the means of the two instructional methods was small, and that the null hypothesis could not be rejected. The average knowledge gain across both instructional methods was 17.5%. Analysis using PROC Mixed with upper and lower quartiles based upon pretest scores showed no statistical difference between the two teaching methodologies. Prior experience with farm tractors and machinery showed a marked positive effect on the participant's performance on the pretest.

It was concluded that the visually-based format of the curriculum provided a viable alternative or compliment to traditional and computer-based instructional methods to reach populations with lower literacy and reading comprehension skills.

Roberts, M. 2008. summary of prior grain entrapment rescue strategies and application principles associated with using a grain rescue tube as a grain retaining device. Master of Science.

Abstract:Because entrapment in flowable agricultural material continues to be a relevant problem, there has been a growing interest in both preventative strategies and developing more effective first response or extrication techniques. It was concluded that there was a need to develop evidence-based rescue strategies especially with respect to the use of grain entrapment rescue tubes that were being introduced as a form of grain retaining system to protect the victim from further entrapment and to aid in extrication. There was also a need for a summary of rescue techniques currently being used in real word situations and to document the history of grain retaining walls (GRWs) and how they developed into grain entrapment rescue tubes (GERTs), the only rescue devices specific to grain entrapment.

Significant findings included: from 1964 – 2006 an average of 16 entrapments were documented per year; of the 196 cases where the rescue technique was known, fifty-six percent (56%) included cutting or punching holes in the side of the grain storage structure and nineteen percent (19%) of the cases utilized the construction of a GRW to extricate the victim.

It was determined that as the moisture content of corn increased from 13.6% to 21.9% the amount of resistance against the LRS Grain Rescue Tube sheet insertion increased from 1368 Joules to 2169 Joules.

Inserting the tube around the victim without removing any grain from inside the tube increased the amount of vertical pull needed for extrication of the victim. In the scenario where the victim was entrapped to the waist and underarms, placing the tube around the mannequin increased vertical pull by 26% and 22% respectively.

Recommendations for further study included: determining the safest way to cut into a large bin or silo (i.e., >20,000 bushels) without causing substantial structural fatigue, quantify coefficients of friction of various grains at varying moisture contents on UHMW plastic, analyze the effects of pulling a human body out of grain during extrication, and determine the most effective means of training volunteer first responders, full-time first responders, and elevator personnel in grain entrapment rescue techniques.


Abstract: Farmers with disabilities frequently fabricate or modify devices and worksites - referred to collectively as assistive technology (AT) - in order to continue performing required tasks on their farms. In some cases these AT have been documented to cause secondary injury. Further, some farmers having disabilities are not able to fully benefit from traditional funding sources, such as vocational rehabilitation agencies, because such one-of-a-kind or personally fabricated technologies fall outside "normally" funded services whose primary concerns include the reliability of the AT and/or the potential liability issues if injuries occur. It is believed that an assessment process with the appropriate empirical support to indicate the potential for secondary injuries with a reasonable degree of reliability may decrease the frequency and severity of injuries as well as reduce barriers to achieving employment and independence. Also, the validated assessment process can be a resource to train rehabilitation professionals in identifying potential injury hazards on both commercially available and locally fabricated AT used in the farm workplace. Hence the research goal was 'to develop a strategy supported by empirical data to identify potential AT-related hazards and the potential for work-related secondary injuries for farmers who adopt personally or locally fabricated AT to compensate for disabling conditions, through a consistent assessment process'. On-site case studies of 19 farmers with disabilities who fabricated AT for personal use were completed, and potential causative factors for secondary injuries were identified. A survey of 43 rehabilitation professionals, experienced in working with farmers having disabilities, was conducted to identify their perception of the significance of injury causative factors identified from the case studies. Relevant ASABE and SAE standards, OSHA workplace safety regulations and current agricultural workplace safe work practices were referenced to assess compliance with applicable safety standards and as a source of the state-of-the-art design practices. A prototype of the assessment process was developed and the same was validated using an expert panel consisting of six rehabilitation professionals evaluating nine different ATs. The desired outcomes included steps to (a) minimize secondary injuries caused by ATs, (b) help farmers with disabilities obtain funding for the purchase or fabrication of ATs, and (c) train rehabilitation professionals who work with farmers to identify potential disability-related hazards. Dissemination of the assessment process has been started with presentations to AgrAbility professionals involved in rehabilitation of farmers with disabilities, and also presentations at workshops and conferences.

Mann, A., 2010. identification, development, validation, and dissemination of written exam items for the agricultural hazardous occupations order (AgHOs) CERTIFICATION TRAINING PROGRAM. Master of Science.

Abstract: Research has been conducted to develop and validate a pool of exam items that can be used to test the readiness of youth, ages 14-15 years old, to be certified under the current federally mandated Agricultural Hazardous Occupations Order (AgHOs) contained within Title 29, Part 570, Subpart E-1 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Training is required prior to employment in agricultural workplaces that Congress determined are especially hazardous for youth within the prescribed age range. Under the current provisions of the AgHOs certification process, participants are required to successfully pass a written exam covering safe work practices as partial satisfaction to receive certification of eligibility for employment to complete certain tasks. However, the regulations provide little guidance concerning the format of the exam, subject matter to be covered, degree of difficulty, or minimum passing score. As part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sponsored Hazardous Occupations Safety Training in Agriculture (HOSTA) initiative, efforts have been made to develop consistent and evidence-based testing strategies and methods for disseminating the test protocols to instructors. The goal was to expand, enhance, and maintain the reliability of the item pool for the AgHOs certification process.

Item development was based on the HOSTA supported Gearing Up for Safety – Production Agriculture Safety Training for Youth (Gearing Up) curriculum. It was determined that the current item pool should be expanded to include a minimum of two test items for each of the 157 cognitive based desired core competencies that were developed as part of the Gearing Up curriculum design process.

Resulting from this research project to expand and maintain a pool of exam items were six major accomplishments:

  1. Twelve item writing guidelines were identified for establishing AgHOs exam items,
  2. One hundred seventy-four (174) preexisting items that met the learning outcomes of the Gearing Up curriculum were identified using the twelve guidelines,
  3. One hundred-forty (140) new items were developed,
  4. Validity evidence was collected to support the use of the 314 identified and newly developed items in the pool through an (a) item-competency alignment process using Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and (b) empirical item analysis in which 16 instructors administered a 70 item exam generated from the pool of 314 items to 568 students across the U.S.,
  5. The pool of 314 evidence-based items and 53 previously validated items were made available to instructors of AgHOs certification training programs, and
  6. Guidelines for item pool maintenance were proposed concluding this project.
Last updated: 07-Dec-2011 3:17 PM