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Agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. Farmers are at high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries, work-related lung diseases, noise-induced hearing loss, skin diseases, and certain cancers associated with chemical use and prolonged sun exposure. Farming is one of the few industries in which the families (who often share the work and live on the premises) are also at risk for injuries, illness, and death.

NIOSH Sector Program

The Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing sector comprises establishments primarily engaged in growing crops, raising animals, harvesting timber, and harvesting fish and other animals on a farm, ranch, or from their natural habitats.


NIOSHTIC 2 search results on Agriculture
NIOSHTIC-2 is a searchable bibliographic database of occupational safety and health publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported in whole or in part by NIOSH.

Related NIOSH Topic Pages

Agricultural Safety and Health Centers

NIOSH Agricultural Centers
The NIOSH Agricultural Centers were established by cooperative agreement to conduct research, education, and prevention projects to address the nation’s pressing agricultural health and safety problems. Geographically, the Centers are distributed throughout the nation to be responsive to the agricultural health and safety issues unique to the different regions.

National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety
External link:
The National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety strives to enhance the health and safety of all children exposed to hazards associated with agricultural work and rural environments. Staff members have advanced training in injury prevention, health promotion, agricultural safety, and related topics. The Center is located in central Wisconsin and is based at Marshfield Clinic, one of the largest rural healthcare facilities in the United States with more then 650 physicians.

Community Partners for Healthy Farming Intervention Research

Community Partners
The Community Partners for Healthy Farming Intervention Research Program (Community Partners) implements and evaluates interventions for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths in agriculture.


The Upper Midwest Health Study - a case-control study of primary intracranial glioma in rural residents
A group in the Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies focused on cancer in farmers and decided to investigate possible explanations for the excess of brain cancer in farmers.

NIOSH Publications on Agriculture


Farm workers and Heavy Machinery


Simple Solutions: Ergonomics For Farm Workers
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-111 (February 2001)
En Español
This booklet describes how to make or order inexpensive new tools or to modify existing ones to reduce the risk of backaches and pains in the arms, shoulders, and hands of farm workers.

Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders Topic page
A large amount of credible epidemiologic research exists that shows a consistent relationship between MSDs and certain physical factors, especially at higher exposure levels.

Grain Handling

Preventing Entrapment and Suffocation Caused by the Unstable Surfaces of Stored Grain and Other Materials—NIOSH Alert
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 88-102 (December 1987)
Entrapment and suffocation are hazards associated with storage bins and hoppers where loose materials such as grain, sand, or gravel are stored, handled, or transferred.

Safe Grain and Silage Handling
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 95-109 (1995)
This booklet summarizes the work practices that apply to grain- and silage-handling tasks.

Study of the Prevalence of Chronic, Non-Specific Lung Disease and Related Health Problems in the Grain Handling Industry
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 86-117 (October 1986)
During exposure to grain dust up to 70% of grain workers frequently experienced symptoms of cough, expectoration, wheezing, chest tightness, and eye and nasal irritation.

Preventing Grain Auger Electrocutions—NIOSH Alert
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 86-119 (July 1986)
This Alert describes two separate incidents that resulted in five fatalities, and occurred within the same week (150 miles apart)

Injuries and Deaths

Injuries Among Farm Workers in the United States, 1993
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-115 (April 1997)
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Safety Council (NSC) Agricultural Division, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) develop a Traumatic Injury Surveillance of Farmers (TISF) survey to address the lack of non-fatal injury data of agricultural workers.

Preventing Deaths of Farm Workers in Manure Pits—NIOSH Alert
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 90-103 (May 1990)
This Alert describes seven deaths from asphyxiation (suffocation) that occurred during two incidents involving entry into manure pits.

TRAC-SAFE—Facilitators Manual
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-108 (April 1996)
A community-based program for reducing injuries and deaths due to tractor overturns.


Preventing Injuries and Deaths From Skid Steer Loaders
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 98-117 (February 1998)
This Alert describes six deaths involving skid steer loaders and recommends methods for preventing similar incidents.

NIOSH Warns: Improper Hitching to Tractors Can Be Fatal—Update
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-108 (January 1997)
Farmers and others who use tractors are at risk for severe injury or death if proper hitching methods are not used when towing or pulling objects with tractors.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Small Gasoline-Powered Engines and Tools—NIOSH Alert
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-118 (1996)
Hundreds of people performing many different tasks have been poisoned because small gasoline-powered engines and tools produced hazardous concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) even in relatively open buildings.

NIOSH Warns Farmers of Forage Wagon Hazards—Update
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 95-118 (September 1995)
Farmers who use forage wagons are at risk for severe injury, amputation, or death.

Preventing Scalping and Other Severe Injuries from Farm Machinery—NIOSH Alert
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 94-105 (June 1994)
This Alert describes five cases of persons who were scalped when their hair became entangled around the inadequately guarded rotating drivelines or shafts of farm machinery driven by power take-offs (PTOs).

Farm Safety: Danger of Hair Entanglement in Hat Baler Drive Shafts—Update
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 93-126 (May 1993)
Recounts the details of four incidents and explores probable causes of five women in New York that have been scalped and/or suffered severe facial disfigurement due to their hair becoming entangled in hay balers

Young Workers

Training resource pack on the elimination of hazardous child labour in agriculture
International Labour Organization
International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour: IPEC
External link:

Tackling hazardous child labour in agriculture: Guidance on policy and practice (toolkit)
International Labour Organization
International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour: IPEC
External link:

Injury and Asthma Among Youth Less Than 20 Years of Age on Minority Farm Operations in the United States, 2000 Volume II: Hispanic National Data
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2006-109 (October 2005)
This document presents national data for non-fatal youth injuries on Hispanic farms for 2000.

Asthma Among Household Youth on Hispanic Farm Operations
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2004-158 (June 2004)
En Español
About 9 children out of 100 have asthma. In 2000, 1,300 household youth had been diagnosed with asthma (72 asthmatics per 1,000 youth living on Hispanic farm operations).

Injuries to Youth on Hispanic Farm Operations
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2004-157 (June 2004)
En Español
Youth who reside and work on farms are exposed to potentially dangerous farm hazards more frequently than other youth. Understanding how to create a safe farm environment is important for farm operators and their families.

Asthma Among Household Youth on Minority Farm Operations
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2004-118 (2003)
In 2000, approximately 28,600 youth lived on minority farm operations. 10-15 year olds had the highest prevalence rate of asthma. Youth less than 10 years of age had the highest prevalence rate for having an asthma attack while doing farm work.

Health and Safety for Kids on the Farm—FACTS
Congress provides funding for a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) initiative to prevent agricultural injury and death among children.

Injuries to Youth on Minority Farm Operations
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2004-117 (2003)
Between 1995 and 2000, the injury fatality rate for youth on minority farm operations was 34 fatalities per 100,000 youth In 2000, the non-fatal injury rate for all youth who reside on, work on, or visit minority farm operations was 130 injuries per 100,000 youth on the farm.

NIOSH Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention Initiative—Progress and Proposed Future Activities (July 1999)
The most recent data suggest about 100 youths under the age of 20 die on farms each year and greater than 100,000 farm-related injuries occur to the same age group.

Are You A Working Teen? What You Should Know About Safety and Health On the Job—FACTS
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-132 (1997)
En Español
Every year about 70 teens die from work injuries in the United States. Another 70,000 get hurt badly enough that they go to a hospital emergency room.

Preventing Deaths and Injuries of Adolescent Workers—NIOSH Alert
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 95-125 (May 1995)
En Español
This Alert can help employers and parents of adolescents, school counselors and teachers make informed decisions about safe work for adolescents and prepare adolescent workers to recognize hazards on the job.

National Agriculture Safety Database

NASD Logo NASD is a national central repository of agricultural health, safety, and injury prevention materials for the agricultural community and especially for agricultural safety specialists. NASD is maintained by the Southern Coastal Agromedicine Center under a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NASD is made available through the NIOSH Web site to enhance public access to workplace safety and health information.

Other Related NIOSH Resources

National Ag Safety Data Base (NASD): Farm Machinery and Equipment Safety Part I: Recognizing and Understanding the Hazards
Statistics show that the majority of machinery related accidents occur as the result of human negligence. Errors include taking shortcuts to save time, failure to read the operators manual, ignoring a warning, improper or lack of instruction and failure to follow safety rules.

National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA)
NIOSH and its partners in the public and private sectors developed the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) to provide a framework to guide occupational safety and health research in the next decade for NIOSH and the entire occupational safety and health community.

NIOSH Research Projects: Agriculture, April 1997
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-124 (April 1997)
this document in PDF PDF only  85 KB (19 pages)
Extramural and intramural research projects.

NIOSH Warns of Hazards of Flood Cleanup Work—Update
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 94-123 (1997)
En Español
If you are involved in cleanup efforts on or near farms, you may face hazards such as Confined spaces, respiratory hazards or stored wet hay.

Papers and Proceedings of the Surgeon Generals Conference on Agricultural Safety and Health
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 92-105 (April 1991)
The NIOSH initiative is intended to provide a balanced approach to substantially reduce the incidence of fatal and nonfatal traumatic injury, chronic injury, and occupational diseases among the 3.4 million agricultural workers in the U.S.

Preventing Fatalities Due to Fires and Explosions in Oxygen-Limiting Silos—NIOSH Alert
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 86-118 (July 1986)
Fire departments responding to incidents involving oxygen-limiting silos are cautioned that directing water or foam onto the fire through the top openings of an oxygen-limiting silo may result in the silo exploding.

Report To Congress On Workers' Home Contamination Study Conducted Under The Workers' Family Protection Act (29 U.S.C. 671A);
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 95-123 (September 1995)
The Workers' Family Protection Act, [29 U.S.C. 671a]) conducted this study of contamination of workers' homes by substances carried home on workers' clothing or bodies was enacted on October 26, 1992.

A Review and Recommendations Regarding Batch Kier Washed Cotton—NIOSH CIB #56
Current Intelligence Bulletin 56 (August 1995)
This publication summarizes more recent research on batch kier washing of cotton, and provides recommendations regarding prevention strategies involving washed cotton.

Other Related Resources

North American Guidelines for Children's Agricultural Tasks
External link:
The North American Guidelines for Children's Agricultural Tasks (NAGCAT) are a resource developed to assist parents in assigning farm jobs to their children 7–16 years of age, living or working on farms

Avian Influenza Protecting Poultry Workers at Risk
External link:
this document in PDF PDF Only   47 KB (8 pages)
External link:
This 8-page OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin is a product of the OSHA-NIOSH Issues Exchange Group. The guidance document describes measures for protecting poultry workers when an avian influenza outbreak occurs. This document complements avian population disease control and eradication strategies of state governments, industry, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and will aid in the development of biosecurity guidelines and standard operating procedures for the various sectors of the poultry industry.

Page last updated: March 17, 2008
Page last reviewed: May 13, 2008
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)