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Health issues for farm employees in the United States.

Villarejo D
Agricultural health and safety: workplace, environment, sustainability. McDuffie HH, Dosman JA, Semchuk KM, Olenchock SA, Senthilselvan A, eds. Boca Raton, FL: Lewis Publishers, 1995 Apr; :479-483
Characteristics of the US agricultural work force and agricultural industry were discussed, and existing data sources were used to measure the incidence of occupational injuries in US agricultural workers. The labor demands of the US agricultural industry have increased in recent years, perhaps due to increases in crop production; the production of fresh vegetables, for example, has increased by 70% over the past 20 years. Studies conducted in California, the leading agricultural state in the US, have shown that the demand for farm laborers has paralleled the increase in crop production, with one study's findings revealing that the seasonal worker labor requirement for California's major labor intensive crops has increased by 21% between 1976 and 1989 after production volume was taken into account. Family farms are being displaced by large scale agricultural operations, with this trend being accompanied by increases in the use of hired labor. In California, the use of farmer and unpaid family member labor decreased by 50% between 1950 and 1990, indicating a greater dependence on hired labor. An analysis of California agricultural injury rates via the state's Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) indicated a disabling injury rate of 15,500 injuries per 100,000 full time employees (injury/100,000), whereas the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) data indicated a disabling injury rate of 5,900injury/100,000. The discrepancy reflects the fact that the DIR represents injuries resulting in at least one full day of work being lost, whereas the WCIRB data represented all occupational illness or injury awards made, regardless of the length of worktime lost. Surveys of the health care delivery systems for US agricultural workers have suggested that farm workers and their relatives seek health care only when it is absolutely essential and the enforcement of occupational health standards is very poor. The author concludes that better enforcement could significantly reduce undesirable health outcomes.
NIOSH-Cooperative-Agreement; Agricultural-workers; Accident-analysis; Occupational-accidents; Seasonal-factors; Industrial-safety; Epidemiology; Work-analysis; Injury-prevention; Families;
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
McDuffie HH; Dosman JA; Semchuk KM; Olenchock SA; Senthilselvan A
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Source Name
Agricultural health and safety: workplace, environment, sustainability
Performing Organization
University of California - Davis
Page last reviewed: March 4, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division