University of Illinois Extension

Senior Farmers at Risk on the Farm

Older farmers and ranchers must deal with the effects of aging just like everyone else. However, the already dangerous work of farming can become more hazardous as farmer's age. The quick onset of fatigue, reduced vision and slower reaction time that are part of the normal aging process can increase risk among older agricultural workers. Also, many suffer from permanent hearing loss and arthritis, which can seriously impact safe job performance. All these factors combine to increase risk among older farmers and ranchers. Research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has demonstrated that tractor drivers 65 years and older may be two to three times more likely to die in tractor accidents than persons in other age groups. A study conducted by Purdue University farm safety specialists revealed an increased risk for older farm machinery operators because of arthritis. Arthritis limits the mobility of farmers and ranchers during many farm tasks.

The National Safety Council recommends that older farmers and ranchers compensate for the normal aging process: