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NIOSH Safety and Health Topic:

Agricultural Safety

Blog on Tractor Overturns
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Agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. Farmers are at very high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries. 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 fatal and nonfatal injuries.

  • Approximately 1,750,000 full-time workers were employed in production agriculture in the U.S. in 2007.

  • An estimated 1.12 million children and adolescents under 20 years of age resided on farms in 2006, with about 590,000 of these youth performing work on the farms. In addition to the youth who live on farms, an additional 307,000 children and adolescents were hired to work on U.S. farms in 2006.

  • On average, 103 children are killed annually on farms (1990-1996). Approximately 40 percent of these deaths were work-related.

  • In 2006, an estimated 23,100 children and adolescents were injured on farms; 5,800 of these injuries were due to farm work.

  • In an average year, 516 workers die doing farm work in the U.S. (1992-2005). Of these deaths, 101 are caused by tractor overturns.

  • Every day, about 243 agricultural workers suffer lost-work-time injuries, and about 5% of these result in permanent impairment.

In FY 1990, Congress directed NIOSH to develop an extensive agricultural safety and health program to address the high risks of injuries and illnesses experienced by workers and families in agriculture. NIOSH funds research and prevention programs at university centers in 20 states. These programs conduct research on injuries associated with different farm operations, as well as pesticide exposure, pulmonary disease, musculoskeletal disorders, hearing loss, and stress.


NIOSHTIC-2 search results on Agricultural Safety
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 the NIOSH.

Selected NIOSH Publications and Web sites on Agricultural Safety

Injuries to Youth on Racial Minority Farm Operations, 2003
DHHS NIOSH Publication No. 2007-163 (August 2007)
Understanding how to create a safe farm environment is important for farm operators and their families. Youth who live and work on farms are exposed to potentially dangerous farm-related hazards more frequently than other youth.

Injuries to Youth on Hispanic Farm Operations, 2003
DHHS NIOSH Publication No. 2007-162 (August 2007)
Understanding how to create a safe farm environment is important for farm operators and their families. Youth who live and work on farms are exposed to potentially dangerous farm-related hazards more frequently than other youth.

Injuries to Youth on U.S. Farm Operations, 2004
DHHS NIOSH Publication No. 2007-161 (August 2007)
Understanding how to create a safe farm environment is important for farm operators and their families. Youth who live and work on farms are exposed to potentially dangerous farm-related hazards more frequently than other youth.

National Academies NIOSH Program Review: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing
This report is the initial “evidence package” from NIOSH to the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Research Program evaluation committee assembled by the NA. We stress “initial” because we believe that the AFF Program review will be best-served by substantial communications between the program and the committee throughout the process. It is understood that the evaluation committee and the NA are charged with executing a thorough review of the program and that to do so it will need much information from the program. We have tried to anticipate those needs with this package. In addition, we look forward to an ongoing dialogue with the committee.

National Agricultural Safety Database (NASD) Web site
The National Agriculture Safety Database (NASD) is a collection of information about health, safety and injury prevention in agriculture. The information in the database was contributed by safety professionals and organizations from across the nation in an effort to promote safety in agriculture.

Injury and Asthma Among Youth Less Than 20 Years of Age on Minority Farm Operations in the United States, 2000, Volume I: Racial Minority National Data
DHHS NIOSH Publication No. 2005-147 (July 2005)
This document presents the national Minority Farm Operator Childhood Agricultural Injury Survey results for racial minority farm operations.

Fatal Unintentional Farm Injuries Among Persons Less Than 20 Years of Age in the United States: Geographic Profiles
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-131 (July 2001)
Youth on farms may be exposed to a wide range of hazards, including machinery, electric current, firearms, bodies of water, grain storage facilities, and livestock. As a place of work and a place of residence, the farm presents unique challenges for injury prevention. This document presents data by state, Census region, and Census division for all youth fatalities on U.S. farms between 1982 and 1996. These data, drawn from the Vital Statistics Mortality files of the National Center for Health Statistics, indicate that nearly 2,200 youth were fatally injured on farms during this 15-year period, and that the leading causes of death varied considerably across geographic areas.

Injuries Among Youth on Farms in the United States, 1998
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DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-154 (June 2001)
More than two million youth less than 20 years of age are potentially exposed to agricultural hazards each year--as farm residents, farm family workers, hired workers, children of migrant or seasonal workers, or farm visitors. This document presents national and regional data for nonfatal youth injuries on U.S. farms for 1998. These data, drawn from a special survey of farm operators across the U.S., indicate that nearly 33,000 youth were injured on farms during 1998, and that major causes of injury included falls, animals, and vehicles such as ATVs.

Injuries Among Farm Workers in the United States, 1995
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-153 (May 2001)
The intent of this document is to present the third and final year of the Traumatic Injury Survey of Farming (TISF) results in an easily accessible statistical abstract format. This is the third in the series of TISF reports [Myers: 1997; Myers, 1998]. No attempt is made to interpret the results presented here because of the quantity of data presented, and because these data represent only one part of a more complex survey. It is hoped that the data will be used by public health and safety professionals, engineers, and other groups working in the area of farm safety to injury control research.

NIOSH Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention Initiative Web site
This Web site compiles all current NIOSH information on childhood agricultural injury and the federal initiative implemented to address this problem. Resources include recent publications, fatality investigation reports, and links to relevant external Web sites.

NIOSH Agricultural Safety and Health Topic Page
This list of NIOSH resources contains links to publications and Web sites on safety and health topics.

NIOSH Alert: Preventing Phosphine Poisoning and Explosions during Fumigation
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 99-126 (September 1999)
En español
Phosphide fumigants release toxic phosphine gas (PH3) when they contact moisture in the air. When phosphine is inhaled, it can react with moisture in the lungs to form phosphoric acid, which can cause blistering and edema. These effects can be serious or fatal. Exposure to phosphine has also been linked with other effects such as chest tightness, headache, dizziness, and nausea. Also, improper handling of aluminum and magnesium phosphide has caused injuries from flash fires and explosions. This Alert describes 205 cases of illness or injury in workers exposed to phosphine gas associated with phosphide fumigants. Recommendations are provided for workers and employers that cover areas such as: aeration and re-entry after fumigation, industrial hygiene monitoring, personal hygiene, protective clothing, and respirators.

New Directions in the Surveillance of Hired Farm Worker Health and Occupational Safety: A Report of the Work Group Convened by NIOSH, May 5, 1995, to Identify Priorities for Hired Farm Worker Occupational Health Surveillance and Research
As part of its agricultural safety and health initiative, NIOSH convened a work group in May 1995 consisting of experts in the areas of public policy, farm worker health, and occupational health, to assist in developing a prioritized set of objectives for the surveillance of hired farm worker occupational safety and health. New Directions in the Surveillance of Hired Farm Worker Health and Occupational Safety is the report to NIOSH from that work group. In addition to priorities for surveillance and research of the occupational safety and health of hired farm workers, this comprehensive report outlines the factors that determine the occupational health status of hired farm workers. It also suggests recommendations for overcoming barriers involved in research with this population.

Recommendations to Improve Safety in Potato Harvesting and Packing in Southern Colorado
NIOSH provided assistance on a study related to injuries in the potato production and packing industry. This work was conducted under an agricultural health hazard evaluation (HHE) requested by Colorado State University (CSU) which involves defining the extent and nature of injuries in the industry and advising farmers and packers about effective controls to reduce the risk of injury. NIOSH researchers, in collaboration with CSU, visited a number of harvesting and packing operations. During the walk-throughs, the team collected data and provided verbal suggestions concerning equipment modifications to reduce the risk of hand and back injuries. This is a summary report with specific recommendations for the industry.

Hazard ID #4: Ignition Hazard from Drilling into Sealed Frames of Agricultural Equipment
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 98-146 (July 1998)
NIOSH received two separate reports of farm workers who were injured while attempting to drill holes into sealed plow frames in order to mount a hitch or a "slow-moving vehicle" sign. These workers received serious skin burns and other injuries when the drill bits penetrated the frames releasing and igniting flammable gases. Hydrogen and methane gas may be produced within sealed frames that are filled during manufacture with scrap metal ballast. Although the reported ignitions involved plows from the same manufacturer, the use of scrap metal fill may not be unique to plows or to that manufacturer. The potential for such ignitions exists in any equipment with similar ballast in sealed compartments during drilling, cutting, welding, or other operations that both release the gases and provide an ignition source. This Hazard ID provides recommendations for agricultural workers, equipment manufacturers, equipment dealers, agricultural extension agents, and universities in dealing with this hazard.

Safe Grain and Silage Handling
DHHS (NIOSH) Pub. No. 95-109 (October 1995)
Grain-handling machinery is the second largest cause of farm machinery related deaths and also causes many severe disfiguring injuries and amputations. Many grain-handling hazards can be avoided. The goal of this booklet is to point out these hazards and suggest practical ways to prevent injury. These suggestions were gathered from agricultural engineers and safety experts throughout the world, but primarily from the United States and Canada.

NIOSH ALERT:Preventing Scalping and Other Severe Injuries from Farm Machinery
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 94-105 (June 1994)
En español
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). Such entanglements of hair, clothing, or body parts kill and injure many farm workers each year. The recommendations in this Alert are provided to help prevent these entanglement injuries and deaths.

NIOSH ALERT: Preventing Deaths of Farm Workers in Manure Pits
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. The recommendations included in this Alert should be followed by all farm owners and operators who have manure pits on their property. Editors of appropriate trade journals, agriculture extension agents, farm owners and operators, and those in the agricultural trades are requested to bring the recommendations in this Alert to the attention of all workers who are at risk.

NIOSH ALERT: Preventing Entrapment and Suffocation Caused by the Unstable Surfaces of Stored Grain and Other Materials
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. The fatalities described in this Alert occurred when suspended materials or crusted surfaces of stored material suddenly broke loose and entrapped the workers. The behavior of such material is unpredictable, and entrapment and burial can occur in a matter of seconds. This Alert recounts seven case reports describing the deaths of 12 workers. In each case, the workers became entrapped in grain or other loose material and were unable to free themselves or be freed by their co-workers. These deaths demonstrate the need to focus on preventing future fatalities.

NIOSH ALERT: Preventing Grain Auger Electrocutions
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 86-119 (July 1986)
This Alert requests the assistance of farm owners/managers, farm/agricultural workers, and farm equipment manufacturers in the prevention of electrocutions which may occur while moving metal grain augers. The grain auger is an essential piece of farm equipment which is used to move grain from one location to another. However, every year accidents occur when this piece of equipment is improperly moved in the elevated position and it comes into contact with high voltage power lines. This has resulted in one or more fatalities per incident. This Alert describes two separate incidents that resulted in five fatalities, and occurred within the same week (150 miles apart), and provides recommendations aimed at preventing auger-related electrocutions.

NIOSH ALERT: Preventing Fatalities Due to Fires and Explosions in Oxygen-Limiting Silos
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 86-118 (July 1986)
This Alert requests the assistance of fire department personnel, farm owners and workers, and silo manufacturers in the prevention of fatalities due to fires and explosions occurring in oxygen-limiting silos. Several recent incidents occurred while fighting oxygen-limiting silo fires which resulted in the death of fire fighters. Other fire fighters lost their lives as a result of similar explosions in the late 1960s. The problems associated with burning silos appeared to have abated during recent years, but these incidents demonstrate the need to renew efforts to minimize their recurrence. A concerted effort should be made to prevent silo fires from occurring and to provide training programs on controlling this type of fire.

In-house Fatality Investigation Reports (conducted under the FACE Program)
State-based Fatality Investigation Reports (conducted under the FACE Program)
Since the inception of the FACE program in 1982, several fatal incidents involving agricultural activities have been investigated by NIOSH and over 200 fatal incidents involving agricultural activities have been investigated by State investigators. These links provide lists of those cases which in turn links to the full-text reports on the FACEWeb.

Other NIOSH Publications related to Agricultural Safety

NIOSH ALERT: Preventing Injuries and Deaths from Skid Steer Loaders.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 98-117 (February 1998)
En español

NIOSH ALERT: Preventing Deaths and Injuries of Adolescent Workers
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 95-125 (May 1995)
En español

NIOSH ALERT: Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Small Gasoline-Powered Engines and Tools
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-118
En español

Other Links of Interest:

National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, WI.
Migrant and Seasonal Hired Adolescent Farmworkers: A Plan to Improve Working Conditions. Recommendations from the National Adolescent Farmworker Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee.
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External link:

Page last updated: January 14, 2009
Page last reviewed: March 10, 2008
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Division of Safety Research

Agricultural Safety

tractor plowing field

Topic Index:

Agricultural Safety
Agricultural Fatality Investigation Reports
In-house Reports
State-based Reports

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Related Resources:

Traumatic Occupational Injuries

Child Agricultural Injury Prevention Initiative

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