Purdue University Graduate School

Peer reviewed articles

Reason: Three chapters are in the peer-review process and will soon be published in their respective journals.





until file(s) become available

Assessment of technologies and response strategies for lone agricultural worker incidents

posted on 2024-03-08, 02:19 authored by Aaron EtienneAaron Etienne


A literature review was conducted, to determine and gain a better understanding of the environmental, technological, physiological, and psychological issues that lone agricultural workers potentially face in the event they are involved in an emergency. An investigation was conducted of communication devices used in other industries where working alone was common, to monitor for and detect incident occurrences. An assessment of currently available emergency alert software and sensing technology for communication [AE1] devices was also undertaken in this review.

Three hundred and sixty-eight U.S. cases of fatalities or injuries were analyzed in which working alone was identified as a contributing factor. Cases included lone agricultural workers, between the ages 15-64, who were identified from a convenient sample of incident reports from 2016-2021[AE2] . Of the 368 lone agricultural worker incidents analyzed, 38% (140) were caused by tractor rollover or tractor runover, and ATV/ UTV rollovers. Grain bin entrapments accounted for 13% (48) of all identified cases, of which 86% (42) were fatal. Thirty-three percent (121) of the identified incidents involved equipment roll over (not including runovers), and 50% of identified victims, when age was known, were 57 years of age or older. In 11 cases (3%), the victim was under 15 years old and active in agricultural-related tasks at the time of incident occurrence.

Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) tools were used to identify the proximity of Emergency Medical Service (EMS) facilities and cellular towers from a convenient sample of 29 fatal and serious agricultural related injuries from 2016-2021, occurring in the state of Indiana. This analysis found that there were substantially fewer EMS facilities within close proximity to documented rural incident locations compared to injuries or fatalities occurring closer to a populated area. There were also fewer cellular towers within close proximity of incidents located primarily on or near rural agricultural land. More densely populated areas tended to have a greater density of EMS and cellular tower locations, with, most likely, more favorable outcomes from injuries due to shorter response times.[AE3]

An investigation of the physical and operational impact that agricultural equipment would have on the efficacy of commercially available wearable technologies was undertaken, to detect the potential injury-causing agricultural incident. Five experiments were conducted to test the feasibility of these selected wearable devices in detecting agricultural-related incidents with the potential of causing serious injuries. Only one simulated agricultural incident [AE4] successfully triggered incident detection. Incidents successfully triggered incident detection on one wearable device, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 smartwatch. [AE5]

Recommendations included greater emphasis on the hazards associated with lone workers assigned agricultural workplaces, development of new, evidence-based educational resources to incorporate in current prevention strategies directed at farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers, enhanced supervision of young agricultural workers and compliance with existing child labor regulations, equipping lone workers with appropriate cellphones and/ or wearable technologies to be carried in their vehicles, agricultural equipment, or on their person, use of electronic surveillance or monitoring equipment, written policies and procedures that enhance awareness of worker locations and conditions on a regular basis, and adherence to existing federal and state workplace safety and health regulations related to lone workers.



[AE3]I’m not sure how to address that more rural people are dying, given the limited scope and criteria for selection of the incidents selected in this study.

[AE4]Not sure if this Is the best way to say it. I may end up cutting this part. I’ll pair the abstract down to ~250 words. For whatever reason, I thought the intro chapter abstract needed to be longer for a dissertation.

[AE5]Shortened this paragraph and removed unnecessary detail, for clarity.


This article was made possible by support from Purdue University’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program and USDA/NIFA Special Project 2021-41590-34813.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

William Field

Additional Committee Member 2

Roger Tormoehlen

Additional Committee Member 3

Shawn Ehlers

Additional Committee Member 4

J. Eric Dietz

Additional Committee Member 5

Aaron Yoder