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Occupational Health of Hired Farmworkers in the United States National Agricultural Workers Survey Occupational Health Supplement, 1999

February 2009
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2009-119
cover page 2009-119

Hired farmworkers form a core component of the agricultural workforce in the United States, numbering an estimated 1.8 million workers. Very little national health data exists on this population because of difficulties in identifying and enumerating them. In 1998, to define the magnitude and scope of hired farmworker occupational health problems, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) collaborated with the Department of Labor to collect occupational safety and health information about a nationally representative sample of hired farmworkers. The collaboration allowed NIOSH to include questions on occupational health in an existing Department of Labor survey, the National Agricultural Workers Survey. The purpose of the original survey continues to be the collection of demographic and employment data on hired crop farmworkers.

This document presents a first look at the health data from this collaboration. This document presents nationally representative data on hired crop farmworker occupational health. Data presented in this document are based on face-to-face interviews with 3,613 hired farmworkers completed between October 1, 1998 and September 30, 1999. Topics covered include musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory symptoms, dermatitis and gastrointestinal problems, pesticide safety training, provision of field sanitation, access to health care, and smoking and alcohol use. Data are displayed for the total population as well as different subsamples of workers based on itinerancyof the workers, years spent working in U.S. farms, the type of crop the farmworker was employed in at the time of the interview, and the number of workers employed on the farm.

This document is an important first step in presenting data on a wide range of health outcomes and potential exposures for hired farmworkers. We hope that it will prove useful for agricultural health and safety professionals, researchers, and farmworker service organizations. The data can be used for program planning, to allocate resources, and to develop interventions that target health problems and barriers to health and develop interventions to prevent injuries and illnesses.

Occupational Health of Hired Farmworkers in the United States National Agricultural Workers Survey Occupational Health Supplement, 1999 [PDF - 9.12 MB]

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