Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing

Burden, Need and Impact

boats at the dock

Several factors contribute to the high fatal and non-fatal injury rates among workers in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector, compared with other industrial sectors. Work in these industries occurs mainly outdoors in harsh conditions, and often in remote, rural, and removed areas. Low profit margins and the seasonal nature of the work make these highly competitive, seasonally-intensive, and economically-risky industries. The work is physical and requires dangerous equipment, heavy machinery, and chemicals, among other risky conditions.

Data about work-related illnesses in AgFF are not as complete and reliable as for injuries. Chemical exposures, the fast pace of seasonal work, exposure to the elements, and repetitive motions in poor posture conditions are just a few of the factors that contribute to high levels of work-related illnesses. Work-related illnesses are most likely underreported because there may be a latency between exposure and illness and there may be multiple potential causes of an illness. It can therefore be difficult to accurately quantify exposure and attribute the illness to work-related exposures. Some of the common work-related illnesses among workers in these industries are acute and chronic pesticide poisoning, musculoskeletal disorders, heat and cold stress, and emotional stress.

Worker Health Charts (WHC)

Data related to some of these health outcomes may be available in the NIOSH Worker Health Charts (WHC). WHC is a web application that uses data from various sources to visualize worker health data that may be difficult to find or not charted elsewhere. Note that some industries may not be represented in this tool due to small sample size.

NIOSH strives to maximize its impact in occupational safety and health. The Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing (AgFF) Program identifies priorities to guide investments, and bases those priorities on the evidence of burden, need and impact. Below are the priority areas for the AgFF Program.

Page last reviewed: May 13, 2020