Work-related injuries continue to be a public health problem in the United States, accounting for more than 6,000 deaths per year (rate 4.5 per 100,000 workers). Among all industries, agriculture has the highest annual death rate. In 1997 alone, farming-related deaths accounted for 13% of all fatal work-related injuries nationwide (U.S. Department of Labor, 1998). The Oklahoma State Department of Health Injury Prevention Service began a statewide, population-based occupational injury fatality surveillance program in July 1997. The Oklahoma Fatality and Control Evaluation (OKFACE) program is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The goals of the OKFACE program are to monitor occupational deaths statewide, determine the epidemiology of fatal work-related injuries, and formulate and disseminate prevention strategies to those who can intervene in workplaces. In Oklahoma, a total of 309 work-related deaths were identified from January 1, 1998 through December 31, 2000 (average annual rate 6.5 per 100,000 workers). During the 3-year period, farming-related deaths were the leading cause of occupational deaths in Oklahoma, accounting for nearly one-quarter of all deaths. This report describes the epidemiology of these injuries.
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