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 extramural research and prevention programs at 12 Centers for Agricultural Safety and Health. These programs conduct research on injuries associated with agriculture, as well as pesticide exposure, respiratory health, musculoskeletal disorders, underserved populations, and mental health.
Who’s at Risk?
- Approximately 2.1 million full-time workers were employed in production agriculture in the US in 2020. [BLS 2023]
- Approximately 1.4 to 2.1 million hired crop workers are employed annually on crop farms in the US. [USDA 2022]
- An estimated 893,000 youth under 20 years of age lived on farms in 2014, with just over half (51%) also performing work on the farm. In addition to the youth who live on farms, an estimated 266,000 youth were hired to work on US farms in 2014. [NIOSH 2016]
- In 2021, workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry experienced one of the highest fatal injury rates at 20 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers, compared to a rate of 3.6 deaths per 100,000 workers for all U.S. industries. [BLS 2022]
- Transportation incidents, which include tractor overturns and roadway crashes, were the leading cause of death for these farmers and farm workers. Other leading causes were contact with objects and equipment, violence by other persons or animals, and falls, slips, trips. [BLS 2022]
- In 2021, almost two-thirds (65%) of deaths in the AgFF industry occurred to workers 55 years of age and older. [BLS 2023]
- In 2020, there were 11,880 injuries in agricultural production that required days away from work, however, there is well-known underreporting of injuries in this industry. [BLS 2021]
- From 2014-2015, 42% of all hired crop worker injuries were classified as a sprain or strain. [NIOSH 2017]
- In 2014, an estimated 12,000 youth were injured on farms; 4,000 of these injuries were due to farm work. [NIOSH 2016]