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National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS)

Hired crop workers play a central role within the US agroindustry labor force with hand labor being required for mass production of many crops. These workers face numerous hazards that can result in injuries and illnesses including sprains and strains from overexertion, being struck by or caught-in machinery, lacerations from hand tools such as knives, falls from ladders, pesticide poisoning, and heat stress.

In 1990, NIOSH implemented an extensive agricultural safety and health program to address the high risks of injuries and illnesses experienced by workers and families in agriculture. One component of this program was the development of an ongoing surveillance program to track the distribution of nonfatal injuries occurring to hired workers on US crop farms. The National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) is the only national level surveillance system providing case specific injury information for this population of mostly marginalized, underserved, and hard to reach workers. The NAWS includes information for hired crop workers on US farms aged 14 years and older, regardless of worker documentation status.

The initial collaborative effort to add an occupational injury module to the on-going NAWS occurred in 1999. A second collaboration added the injury module to NAWS from 2002-2004, a third for 2008-2010 and the final injury effort during 2014-2015.

The NAWS data tables providing results from the survey periods are divided into three broad categories:

Interpretation of these data are provided in NIOSH documents and publications. Demographic and injury percentage distributions and injury rate estimates in the tables were calculated by NIOSH and are presented with the approval of US Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Public access to all NAWS data files, or additional statistics from the NAWS, are subject to the approval of USDOL/ETA. For additional information contact Larry Layne.

Page last reviewed: September 16, 2019