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Occupational health problems among migrant and seasonal farm workers.
Mobed K; Gold EB; Schenker MB
West J Med 1992 Sep; 157(3):367-373
Occupational health problems among migrant and seasonal farm workers in the United States were reviewed. Currently, the only national reporting system that tracked farm worker health data was the Migrant Student Record Transfer System maintained by the Office of Migrant Education of the United States Department of Education. This computerized database contained health records pertaining to children of farm workers, but no parallel collection of national health data on adult farm workers existed. The total population of these workers in the United States was estimated to be five million, of whom 20% lived or worked in California. Occupational health problems in this group included broken bones, sprains, cuts, and lacerations sustained from farm machinery, tree accidents, and falls. Of 287 migrant farm workers studied in North Carolina, 8.4% reported occupational injuries in a 3 year period. Pesticide related illnesses, common among farm workers, were insufficiently documented for the migrant group. A study from California in 1987 documented 372 cases of pesticide related illness among 1507 workers, but underreporting was possible. Musculoskeletal and soft tissue problems were reported from agricultural workers. Although no formal studies among migrant and seasonal workers had been carried out, two different surveys among farm workers reported symptoms among 21% and 27%, respectively. Reports of dermatitis and noninfectious respiratory illness were also considered. Reproductive health problems were not well studied among agricultural workers, even though workers were exposed to reproductive hazards. Health problems of the children of farm workers included malnutrition and difficulties associated with low socioeconomic status. The authors conclude that case/control and cross sectional studies should be carried out to assess the occupational health risks in this migrant group.
NIOSH-Publication; NIOSH-Cooperative-Agreement; Accident-statistics; Agricultural-workers; Epidemiology; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Occupational-diseases; Risk-analysis
Issue of Publication
Western Journal of Medicine
University of California - Davis
Page last reviewed: September 22, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division