We recently reported on the spike in North Carolina agricultural injuries that inevitably occurs in the late summer and early fall harvest season.
Now, it seems there is extra reason for those working and living in rural settings to exercise caution. A new study, published recently in The Annals of Emergency Medicine, reveals that the majority of serious injuries and death from injuries occur in rural areas, as opposed to urban backdrops.
Our Spruce Pine personal injury lawyers have learned that of 1.3 million injury deaths that occurred in some 3,000 counties across the country between 1999 and 2006, rural county injuries deaths are 50 percent more likely than urban county injury deaths.
Of course, the actual number of urban injury deaths is higher. In fact, most of the people who died of injury-related deaths were people younger than 45 who lived in urban areas. This might reasonably lead one to conclude that cities are dangerous places for younger people to live and work. However, the figures are skewed because there are far more people overall living in urban areas.
When we break it down by population, we find that for every 100,000 people, we can expect about 74 injury-related deaths in rural America. Compare that to urban areas, which for every 100,000 people reports about 50 injury-related deaths.
It's worth noting that no matter where you live, injury is the number one cause of death for people between the ages of 1 and 44.
The study found that car crashes and gunshots were the most common causes of injury deaths overall, and those figures increased the more rural an area became. Death by motor vehicle accident was nearly three times more likely in a rural setting versus an urban setting. Part of that, we suspect, is due to the fact that people who live in rural areas drive more. Those in urban areas rely more heavily on public transportation.
The three major exceptions to this rule were: poisoning, fall-related injuries and homicides. (While gunshot-related injury deaths were higher in rural areas, not all of those were the result of homicide, and not all homicides in urban areas were the result of gunshot wounds.)
A report issued last year by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine indicates that agricultural injuries and deaths continue to be a major problem in our state. In 2009, the yearly fatality rate for agriculture, fishing, hunting and forestry industries in North Carolina was 33 deaths for every 100,000 full-time workers. That is 10 times higher than the average state fatality rate. These industries also had the highest rates of non-fatal injuries in the state.
Researchers concluded that providing evidence of the number of agricultural injuries and deaths isn't enough, and more needs to be done to provide a fully comprehensive picture of the problem. Among the specific recommendations made:
- Form a dedicated, interdisciplinary task force that will develop standard farm safety measures and monitoring;
- Establish a centralized farm industry and fatality registry that will provide in-depth information about each farm-related injury and death.