Farmers represent a small portion of our population, but feed the entire country and most of the world. Despite advances in agricultural technology, however, farming remains one of the most dangerous occupations. To exacerbate matters, the injury of a farmer often hurts his or her entire family, as entire families often work together and feel the pain when one of their loved ones is unable to contribute and must be cared for by the others. It is for this reason that they must be extremely mindful of safety and constantly devising safer ways of accomplishing their goals.
Over Two Million Workers are employed on Farms Each Year
According to NIOSH, over 1.8 million people are employed full-time in the agricultural field every year, with over 200,000 part time workers. Many of these workers are under the age of 20 and working for their families’ farms. Of these workers, there are a recorded 374 deaths per year on average due to agricultural related injuries, with the most common cause of death being tractor overturns.
Nonfatal injuries are far more common— 167 workers are injured every single day. Many of these workers are injured severely enough to suffer a disability for life. The rate of permanent disability is estimated at about 5% of all injuries while 50% of accidents are as minor as a strain or contusion. Over 2,700 workers under the age of 20 are injured every year as well.
Young People Represent a Third of Farm Deaths
Of the 374 deaths reported annually, an average of 113 are under the age of twenty. This is likely due to the fact that younger workers are more likely to make mistakes and lack the safety training and awareness to avoid serious injuries. Almost one quarter of the youth deaths were due to tractor related accidents and 19% involved the use of motor vehicles such as ATVs.
NIOSH began the development of a special program in the 1990s to help agricultural workers reduce their risk of serious injury through education and research. This organization has conducted research over the last two decades on injuries that include repetitive use, exposure to toxic substances, hearing loss, stress and machinery accidents in an effort to create new safety programs that can help entire farming families. These programs are based out of universities located in ten different states across the country.