Injuries to Youth on Minority Farm Operations


December 2003
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2004-117
cover page of document 2004-117

Youth who reside and work on farms are exposed to potentially dangerous farm hazards more frequently than other youth. Understanding how to create a safe farm environment is important for farm operators and their families.

Youth on Minority Farm Operations

  • Agriculture continues to rank as one of the most hazardous industries
  • Youth are exposed to hazards while living, working on, or visiting farms
  • In 2000, there were approximately 47,700 farms operated by minorities in the United States, with an estimated 28,600 youth living in these farm households
  • Between 1995 and 2000, the injury fatality rate for youth on minority farm operations was 34 fatalities per 100,000 youth
  • In 2000, the non-fatal injury rate for all youth who reside on, work on, or visit minority farm operations was 130 injuries per 100,000 youth on the farm

Household Youth on Minority Farm Operations, 2000

Household youth comprise all youth 0-19 years of age who reside on minority farm operations and include working and non-working youth

  • An estimated 28,600 household youth lived on minority farm operations:
    348 were injured (12 injuries per 1,000 household youth)
  • 10-15 year olds had the highest injury rate (15 injuries per 1,000 household youth)
  • 138 injuries occurred while working on the farm (3 injuries per 1,000 household youth)
  • 10-15 year olds experienced the highest rate of injury while doing farm work (13 injuries per 1,000 household youth)

Non-Fatal Injuries: Household Youth on Minority Farm Operations, 2000

The most common sources for the 348 non-fatal injuries to household youth on minority farm operations were:

  • Floors, walkways, ground (34%)
  • Vehicles (14%)
  • Person, animals, plants, minerals (12%)

The most common types of injury were:

  • Cut, laceration (27%)
  • Broken bone, fracture (23%)
  • Bruise, contusion (14%)

The body parts most commonly injured were:

  • Arm (17%)
  • Leg (16%)
  • Hand, wrist, fingers (14%)

Fatal Injuries Among Youth on Minority Farm Operations, 1995-2000

  • The majority of deaths to youth on minority farm operations were due to drowning (37%) and machinery (10%)
  • An estimated 59 youth died on minority farm operations in the United States and most fatalities occurred to youth 16-19 years of age

Farm Youth Safety Recommendations

Youth farm worker Farm machinery

Remember to…

  • Inspect your farm for potential hazards to children
  • Provide young children a safe play area away from hazards such as livestock, structures, farm machinery and vehicles
  • Make sure that farm chores assigned to youth are appropriate for their age
  • Be a good role model for farm safety
  • Consider outside childcare during busy farm seasons
  • Make sure all dangerous areas are clearly marked with hazard signs
  • Keep toxic substances in their original containers and lock them up safely
  • Devote a day to FARM SAFETY instructions and rules

Safety Tips about Youth and Machines

  • Follow the “one seat—one rider” rule. Do not allow extra riders on tractors, all terrain vehicles (ATVs) and other farm equipment
  • Follow manufacturers’ recommendations for age restrictions when operating machinery and equipment (e.g., most manufacturers and safety experts recommend that youth less than 16 not operate ATVs or machinery unless they have received formal training and are closely supervised)
  • Once youth reach an appropriate age, teach them how to operate ATVs and machinery properly. Encourage youth to take safety training courses.
  • Leave buckets or forks on loaders and tractors in the down position when not in use
  • Keep vehicles and machinery properly maintained at all times
  • When parked, self-propelled machinery should be locked and keys removed from the ignition

Safety Tips about Youth and Animals

  • Teach youth how to handle and work with animals safely
  • Make sure children have no contact with farm animals that are aggressive, sick, are mothers of newborns, or breeding male animals (bulls, boars, rams, etc.)
  • Make sure children wear proper protective clothing when handling animals
  • Provide shots and proper health checks for all household pets

Safety Tips about Youth and Water

  • Children should always be supervised when playing in or near water
  • Restrict entrance to ponds, lagoons, pools, manure pits, etc.; fence these areas if possible
  • Empty or cover containers with standing water in areas where toddlers are present
  • Make sure wells are securely closed, or filled if no longer in use
  • Install water safety and rescue equipment at all farm ponds
  • Teach children to swim at an early age
  • Be aware that alcohol can contribute to teen drownings on farms

Need More Information?

National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Safety and Healthexternal icon
1000 North Oak Avenue
Marshfield, Wisconsin 54449
Telephone: 1-888-924-SAFE (7233)

North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks (NAGCAT)external icon
Telephone: 1-888-924-SAFE (7233)

Farm Safety 4 Just Kidsexternal icon
P.O. Box 458
Earlham, Iowa 50072
Telephone: 1-800-423-5437; 515-758-2827


Your state, and every state in the nation, has a health insurance program for infants, children, and teens. The insurance is available to children in working families. To learn more, make a free call to find your State’s Program.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)external icon
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Telephone: 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669)

Injuries to Youth on Minority Farm Operationspdf icon [PDF – 466 KB]

Page last reviewed: June 6, 2014