NYCAMH Releases New York State Farm Fatality Numbers for 2020 - May 5, 2021

In April, NYCAMH released statistics for farm-related fatalities in 2020.To understand better what these numbers mean, Deputy Director Erika Scott, PhD, answered the following questions about NYCAMH'S injury and fatality surveillance program.

Q. How do you calculate these numbers?

A. We contract with a news clipping service to track agricultural fatalities using special keywords within New York. In addition, we cross-reference fatalities with Our data may vary slightly from official Census of Fatal Occupational Injury due to differences in case definitions. For example, our numbers include non-working child fatalities that occur on farms.

Q. Were road-related incidents higher than usual?

A. Seventy percent of fatalities last year occurred from a roadway incident. In the past decade, nearly half of farm fatalities in New York were tractor related, with the majority being rollovers and runovers. It remains to be seen if this higher percentage of roadrelated deaths is a new trend. We will monitor this over time. 

Q. Is there anything unique about last year's data?

A. In the last decade, we've seen numbers between 11 and 24 deaths in a given year. There was a decline in fatality numbers over that decade. 1 Because fatalities are not as frequent as injuries, it is difficult to say if the fewer fatalities in 2020 were part of that trend. It's difficult to interpret statistics with numbers less than 30. To counter this, we interpret fatality numbers using rolling statistics, meaning that we average three years of data in a rolling fashion, to smooth out any abnormalities in the numbers.

Q. Why does NYCAMH track this information?

A. Tracking fatalities in New York is part of our center's mission. This is also part of a larger research effort we conduct through our affiliate, the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, to track farm fatalities and injuries. We use these data to help understand what safety issues we need to address through our other programming. In addition, we provide these data to the NYS Department of Health and to farm industry and advocacy groups as well. You can learn more about our surveillance efforts at

1. Scott EE, Dalton DB. Agricultural Fatalities in New York State from 2009-2018: Trends from the past Decade Gathered from Media Reports. Journal of Agromedicine. 2020:1-8.

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