Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
The Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Program (AgFF) provides leadership and coordination between intra- and extramural efforts nationwide to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses among the nation’s agricultural, forestry, and fishing workers. The NIOSH-funded Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health and NIOSH Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies conduct much of this research, as well as regional capacity-building, outreach, and research-to-practice activities.
The Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing sector has approximately 2.4 million workers and includes all jobs under NAICS code 11. Agriculture includes crop production, animal production, and aquaculture. These workers plant and harvest a wide variety of crops; tend livestock on cattle ranches, pig farms, and dairy farms; and produce eggs and chickens. The forestry industry includes logging operations and businesses that grow trees and gather forest products. Fishing includes a variety of commercial fishing operations as well as seafood processing done aboard vessels and onshore. Together, they form one of the most hazardous industrial sectors: AgFF workers experience the highest fatal occupational injury rate at 23.4 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers. Likewise, AgFF workers are at high risk for nonfatal injury/illness, with a rate of 5.3 per 100 FTEs, compared to the all-worker rate of 2.8 per 100 FTEs . Furthermore, the injury/illness rate likely severely underestimates the true injury/illness burden in this sector, due to limitations in reporting and methodology of surveying employers (e.g., excluding self-employed workers, which constitute a significant portion of this workforce).
- BLS . Labor force statistics from the current population survey, household data, annual averages 18. Employed persons by detailed industry, sex, race, and hispanic or latino ethnicity. https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat18.pdf
- BLS  Number and rate of fatal work injuries by industry sector, 2018. https://www.bls.gov/charts/census-of-fatal-occupational-injuries/number-and-rate-of-fatal-work-injuries-by-industry.htm
- BLS  Incidence rates of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses by selected industry and case types, private industry, 2017-18. www.bls.gov/web/osh/summ1_00.htm and www.bls.gov/web/osh/summ2_00.htm.
- Leigh JP, Du J, McCurdy SA. An estimate of the U.S. government’s undercount of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in agriculture. Annals of Epidemiology. 24(4):254-259. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.01.006
The Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing program has selected research priorities on the basis of burden, need, and impact and collaborated with other NIOSH research programs to write the research goals in the NIOSH Strategic Plan for FYs 2019-2023. The priority areas are:
- Reducing occupational neurologic disorders and renal disease stemming from pesticide exposure
- Reducing occupational infectious and dermal disease including skin exposure to pesticides and total body burden.
- Reducing occupational musculoskeletal disorders, which are soft-tissue injuries caused by sudden or sustained exposure to repetitive motion, force, vibration, and awkward positions.
- Reduce occupational respiratory diseases including fixed airway diseases such as COPD and obliterative bronchiolitis
- Improving workplace safety to reduce traumatic injuries among high risk populations.
Program Performance One-Pagers (PPOPs) are a snapshot of the programs’ priorities, strategies used to make progress towards priorities, recent accomplishments, and upcoming work. Below are PPOPs for our AgFF program and the NIOSH Center for Maritime Safety and Health Studies:
The AgFF Program helps lead the NORA Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Council, which brings together individuals and organizations to share information, form partnerships, and promote adoption and dissemination of solutions that work. The council seeks to facilitate the most important research, understand the most effective intervention strategies, and learn how to implement those strategies to achieve sustained improvements in workplace practice. The final version of the research agenda for the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing council can be found here .
Agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. Farmers are at very high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries; and farming is one of the few industries in which family members (who often share the work and live on the premises) are also at risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries. Learn more about agriculture safety.
Commercial Fishing Safety
Commercial fishing is one of the most hazardous occupations in the United States with a fatality rate 29 times higher than the national average. NIOSH has conducted studies of fishing safety to reduce the incidence of injuries and fatalities among the nation’s fishermen. Our studies show that the greatest dangers to fishermen are vessel disasters, falls overboard, and machinery on deck. Learn more about commercial fishing safety.
NIOSH Extramural Research and Programs – Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health
Since 1990, the NIOSH Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health have worked to address the nation’s pressing agricultural health and safety problems through research, education, and prevention projects. The Centers are found throughout the US to be responsive to the issue unique to the various regions, but they also work collaboratively on projects of mutual concern such as those related to heat stress, roll over protection structures, drowning prevention as well as COVID-19. Learn more about the Centers and funding opportunities. Also see the shared YouTube channel.
NIOSH/US Coast Guard Commercial Fishing Safety Research and Training Grants
The Commercial Fishing Occupational Safety Research and Training Program was created to provide funding to advance fishing safety research and provide targeted, regionally appropriate training for the nation’s commercial fishermen. The Commercial Fishing Occupational Safety Research and Training Program is a partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard and NIOSH that provides funding opportunities to qualified individuals in academia, members of non-profit organizations, municipalities, and businesses involved in the U.S. commercial fishing industry. The funding supports research on improving the occupational safety of commercial fishermen and critical training for this high-risk occupation. Each award ranges from $150-$650 thousand over a two-year funding period. Learn more about the Commercial Fishing Safety Training and Health grants.
The International Fishing Industry Safety and Health Conference (IFISH)
Sponsored by NIOSH, IFISH is the only international conference dedicated to fishing, aquaculture, and seafood processing health and safety. Since 2000, IFISH has offered researchers, safety and health professionals, instructors, workers and industry experts, ergonomists, governmental and regulatory representatives, and other professionals the opportunity to attend keynote lectures, workshops, presentations, and poster sessions that feature new occupational health and safety research findings and innovations. Learn more about IFISH.external icon
CDC/OSHA COVID-19 Interim Guidance for Agriculture Workers and Employers
Consistent application of specific preparation, prevention, and management measures can help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Workers on farms, ranches, and other production agriculture work sites are considered critical infrastructure workers within the Food and Agriculture Sector. Learn more about CDC/OSHA’s recommendations for agriculture workers and employers.
Resource and Topic Pages
More information on specific workplace safety and health topics and useful resources can be found on the AgFF Resource Page.
Contact the AgFF Program
Contact the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing program with any questions at NIOSHAgFF@cdc.gov