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.
In 1990, NIOSH developed an extensive agricultural safety and health program to address the high risks of injuries and illnesses experienced by workers and families in agriculture. NIOSH supports intramural research and funds extramural research and prevention programs at university centers in 10 states. These programs conduct research on injuries associated with agriculture, as well as pesticide exposure, pulmonary disease, musculoskeletal disorders, hearing loss, and stress.
Who’s at Risk?
- Approximately 1,854,000 full-time workers were employed in production agriculture in the US in 2012.
- Approximately 1.4 to 2.1 million hired crop workers are employed annually on crop farms in the US.
- An estimated 955,000 youth under 20 years of age resided on farms in 2012, with about 472,000 youth performing farm work. In addition to the youth who live on farms, an estimated 259,000 youth were hired to work on US farms in 2012.
- In 2012, 374 farmers and farm workers died from a work-related injury, resulting in a fatality rate of 20.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. Tractor overturns were the leading cause of death for these farmers and farm workers.
- The most effective way to prevent tractor overturn deaths is the use of a Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS). In 2012, 59% of tractors used on farms in the US were equipped with ROPS. If ROPS were placed on all tractors used on US farms manufactured since the mid-1960’s, the prevalence of ROPS-equipped tractors could be increased to over 80%.
- On average, 113 youth less than 20 years of age die annually from farm-related injuries (1995 -2002), with most of these deaths occurring to youth 16-19 years of age (34%).
- Of the leading sources of fatal injuries to youth, 23% percent involved machinery (including tractors), 19% involved motor vehicles (including ATVs), and 16% were due to drowning.
- Every day, about 167 agricultural workers suffer a lost-work-time injury. Five percent of these injuries result in permanent impairment.
- From 2008-2010, 50% of all hired crop worker injuries were classified as a sprain or strain.
- In 2012, an estimated 14,000 youth were injured on farms; 2,700 of these injuries were due to farm work.
A national occupational safety and health agenda for the agricultural production industry has been developed as part of the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) process. Further information on agriculture production safety and health is also available as part of the activities.
Agricultural Safety Resources
- Cost-effective Rollover Protective Structures (CROPS)
- Occupational Injury Surveillance of Production Agriculture (OISPA) Survey
- Minority Farm Operator Occupational Injury Surveillance of Production Agriculture (M-OISPA) Survey
- Farm Safety Survey (FSS)
- National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS)
- Other Links of Interest
- Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention Initiative
- Page last reviewed: June 19, 2014
- Page last updated: December 15, 2014
- Content source:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Division of Safety Research