Treestand-related Injuries in Virginia

While falls from treestands when hunting may cause serious or fatal injuries, little is known about such accidents because they are not usually reported to natural resource department officials. The limited data that is obtained is helpful, but does not fully represent the exposure factors experienced by hunters involved in treestand accidents. This presentation summarized the findings of a study of treestand-related injuries occurring over the period 1993 to 2005. Since 1993, there have been 13 fatal injuries involving Virginia hunters. The presentation highlighted data related to these incidents and gives examples of how they could have been prevented. Falls from treestands are a serious and growing concern for Virginia hunters, particularly among older hunters. Because treestand injuries have increased over the past 10 to 15 years, the study was conducted to determine if there was a need to increase awareness in selected categories of training or if public outreach was necessary to reduce the number of serious and fatal incidents. The presentation provided details of the number of incidents occurring each year beginning in 1993. It reviewed the age of hunters, gender, and whether the hunter was ascending, descending, or in the stand at the time of the incident. Also examined was how high off of the ground was the hunter, if the hunter wore a safety harness, body part injured, type of stand, what equipment the hunter was using, and if there were any geographical findings of note. The presentation provided several common-sense suggestions for improving the treestand safety module in the outdoor education program. Since complete information regarding treestand incidents is lacking, methods to enhance reporting and investigation of them should be implemented. Revisions to incident reporting requirements are urgently needed. To reduce the number of incidents, natural resource departments should develop awareness and outreach programs. The author provided an explanation of a metric device that can assist in measuring the treestand safety performance in relation to the number of incidents per 100,000 hunters. It can be used to measure performance and make comparisons between states.

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