Farm accidents are once again in the spotlight after a Greenville teen is killed in a tractor rollover.
It's especially sad when a child dies, but fatal farm accidents could happen to anyone. Mark Purschwitz of Marshfield's National Farm Medicine Center , says tractor rollovers are more common than other fatal farm mishaps, and preventable.
"The tractor rollover … is the single most common fatal incident and the estimates are that about 150 people nationally die from tractor overturns every year."
Purschwitz says a Roll Over Protective Structure (ROPS) , which has been standard on tractors since 1985, helps to save lives. He says about half the tractors being used in Wisconsin are so old, they don't have rollover protections, but he says many can be retro-fitted with the life-saving bars. Farmers, though, are reluctant to get the ROPS due to the cost. Meanwhile, unlike the durable long-lasting tractors, cars often get traded in after about ten years, making way for newer ones with newer safety features.
"Well tractors, since they last 30, 40, 50 years easily, it takes a much longer period of time for a safety development to be difused throughout the tractor world, so-to-speak. So, and that's why we still have so many tractors without ROPS. If we had cars that were, you know, 40, 50 years on the road, we'd still have a lot of cars without seatbelts, much less airbags."
Purschwitz says many people worry about not getting a return on their investment on a rollover bar, but he says it's like insurance and people need to have that. His organization is working on social marketing, hoping to change the way of thinking. Quoting their advertising campaign, he says "It's easier to bury a tradition than bury a child."
(See also Child Ag Safety.org )