Principles of health and safety in agriculture. Dosman JA, Cockcroft DW, eds., Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Inc., 1989 Oct; :285-287
The epidemiological aspects of occupational skin diseases in agricultural workers were reviewed and compared to rates and risks in other industries by rate, risk, causal agents, and disability. A 1978 report by OSHA, based on survey data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that agricultural and manufacturing industries had the highest relative risks for occupational skin diseases, both 4.1. The number of skin disease cases expressed as a percentage of all illnesses within the agricultural sector in 1979 was 64.9%, versus 36.9% for the manufacturing sector. Data provided by the California Employment Development Department that dealt with occupational skin diseases in agricultural workers indicated that in 1979 1,683 cases of occupational skin disease occurred in agricultural production workers and 382 cases occurred in agricultural service workers. These represented disease incidence rates of 6.64 and 4.49 cases per 1,000 employees, respectively. Among the agricultural service workers, the largest number of cases occurred among landscape and horticultural workers. For all agricultural workers, the two categories of causal agent responsible for the largest number of occupational skin disease cases were exposure to inedible plant or animal products and agricultural chemicals which accounted for 63.2 and 20.4% of the total, respectively. Poison oak exposures accounted for 76.8% of the cases of inedible plant or animal product induced skin diseases. Pesticides were responsible for the largest number of cases of agricultural chemical induced skin disease, accounting for 55% of the total. An analysis of disability, based on the number of lost work days, indicated that in 1974 and 1979, 24.5 and 26.6% of the cases of occupational disease in agricultural workers resulted in lost work time, compared to 19.8 and 23.7% of all industrial sector workers combined, respectively.