Status of National Agriculture Injury Surveys at NIOSH

Although no longer actively conducting national agricultural injury surveys, NIOSH remains committed to the prevention of injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the agriculture sector. To do this, NIOSH will continue to work with its extramural partners to promote advances in agricultural injury surveillance; facilitate the use of surveillance information for prevention efforts among partners and stakeholders; and encourage the inclusion and accurate coding of industry and occupation in existing and future databases.


NIOSH began its coordinated program in agriculture in 1990, and in 1996 added youth agricultural injury prevention as an area of focus. For 25 years the Institute partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct targeted national surveys. Over this time, both the size of the U.S. agricultural workforce and the number of work-related injuries declined each year. These declines made data collection a costly and resource-intensive process as larger sample sizes would be required to determine injury estimates.

As a result, NIOSH did not continue interagency agreements with DOL and USDA to collect national agricultural worker injury data in Fiscal Year 2015.

Examination of NIOSH’s Agriculture Injury Surveillance Efforts

At the beginning of Fiscal Year 2015, NIOSH began a rigorous examination of options to reshape its approach to agricultural injury surveillance. To do this, NIOSH:

  • Asked for input from the public. NIOSH held a public meeting (see  Federal Register Noticeexternal icon) and comment period (see  docketexternal icon) to gather feedback from the public, namely agricultural stakeholders, on new ways of doing surveillance using smarter, more cost-effective approaches.
  • Contracted with the RAND Corporation to conduct an objective assessment of the practicality and potential benefit of the agricultural surveillance recommendations made to NIOSH by a 2012 expert panel who reviewed the NIOSH Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing program. A report with findings and recommendations from RAND is availableexternal icon.
  • Identified agricultural injury surveillance research and activities conducted by Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health. NIOSH funds 10 Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health and the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety. Several Centers conduct agricultural injury surveillance. A summary of injury surveillance projects conducted by Centers is available.
  • Requested a study by the National Academies of Scienceexternal icon on developing a smarter national surveillance system for occupational safety and health in the 21st century. NIOSH, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requested this study to address occupational injury and illness surveillance broadly. Though not specific to agricultural surveillance, results from this study are relevant to all industry sectors, including agriculture.

Questions & Answers

Literature Search

NIOSHTIC-2 is a searchable bibliographic database of occupational safety and health publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported in whole or in part by NIOSH.

NIOSHTIC-2 search results specific to agriculture are based on keywords: agriculture, surveillance, injury.

Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health: Injury Surveillance Project Summaries

Surveillance of Injuries and Risk Factors in Using Workers’ Compensation Data: This project analyzes agricultural injuries captured in two datasets: Iowa’s Statewide Trauma System and an Iowa-based Workers’ Compensation program from 2005-2015 to estimate the incidence of agricultural injury. This project also entails evaluating a new agriculture hazard surveillance tool, developed by an insurance company, to determine if it accurately predicts injuries reported via workers compensation claims.

Surveillance of Agricultural Injury and Illness in the Central States Region: This research entails conducting annual surveys of agricultural injuries in the Central States region and linking findings with existing data on farm production and operator characteristics from the Census of Agriculture. Further, this research will explore alternative surveillance methods for injuries and illnesses, including analyses of ‘big data’, automated online surveys, and media tracking services to expand the evidence base for prevention.

Improving Methods for Traumatic Injury Surveillance in Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing: This study seeks to establish low-cost injury surveillance methods for the agriculture, forestry, and commercial fishing industries in the Northeast. As part of this research, investigators will optimize narrative keyword searches; investigate state and regional trauma databanks; explore the utility of ICD10 E-Codes for Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing surveillance; and collect injury data using a survey designed by the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health for regional data comparisons.

Leveraging Motor Vehicle Crash Data for Injury Surveillance and Research in Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing: To address surveillance and research needs, this project will seek to construct a model system to support surveillance and research of nonfatal and fatal crashes involving agriculture, forestry, and fishing (AFF) equipment and vehicles. This project also includes developing and evaluating a process for identifying and extracting variables from crash narratives to support identification and characterization of crashes involving AFF equipment, vehicles, and workers.

Filling the gaps in Child Agriculture Injury Data: This project explores the most promising, existing public health data systems to determine their utility for adding to the limited data currently available.

Page last reviewed: February 11, 2020
Content source:

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Division of Safety Research (DSR)