CDC logoSafer Healthier People  CDC HomeCDC SearchCDC Health Topics A-Z
NIOSH - National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

NIOSH Publication No. 2007-161:

Injuries to Youth on U.S. Farm Operations, 2004

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.


Youth on U.S. Farm Operations  
Youth Fatalities on U.S. Farms, 1995-2002  

Non-fatal Injuries to Youth Living on U.S. Farms, 2004

How to Keep the Youth on Your Farm Safe  
Keeping Youth Safe Around Animals  
Keeping Youth Safe Around Machinery  
Keeping Youth Safe Around Water  
For More Information  



Youth on U.S. Farm Operations

Just the facts . . .

  • In 2004, 2.1 million farms were operated in the U.S.
  • Nearly 1/3 (650,000) of these farms reported having youth less than 20 years old living on them
  • Over 1.25 million youth lived on these farms
  • 27,600 injuries (3.1 injuries every hour) occurred to youth who lived on, worked on, or visited these farms
  • Approximately 2/3 (18,800) of the injuries were to youth who lived on the farm
  • Between 1995 and 2002, 907 youth died on farms (43 deaths/100,000 youth)

Youth Fatalities on U.S. Farms, 1995-2002

  • Of the 907 youth who died on farms in the U.S., most were between the ages of 16 and 19 years
  • The majority of deaths to youth on U.S. farms were due to machinery (23%), such as tractors; motor vehicles (19%), which include ATVs; and drowning (16%)

Non-fatal Injuries to Youth Living on U.S. Farms, 2004

The most common sources for the 18,800 nonfatal injuries to youth living on a U.S. farm were:

  • Persons, animals, plants, minerals (23%)
  • Floors, walkways, ground (21%)
  • Vehicles (ATVs, tractors, automobiles, 16%)

The most common types of injury were:

  • Broken bone (26%)
  • Cut (25%)
  • Sprain, strain, torn ligament (11%)

The body parts most commonly injured were:

  • Arm (17%)
  • Hand, wrist, finger (16%)
  • Foot, ankle, toe (16%)

Non-fatal injury rates (per 1,000) for youth
living* on U.S. farms by age group, 2004

Non-fatal injury rates (per 1,000) for youth living* on U.S. farms by age group, 2004
* Includes all individuals 0-19 years of age who live on a U.S. farm operation.

How to Keep the Youth on Your Farm Safe

  • Children do what they a good role model for farm safety. Devote a day to FARM SAFETY with your children.
  • Inspect your farm for hazards to children. Remove as many hazards as possible. Mark dangerous areas clearly with hazard signs.
  • Provide an enclosed and supervised safe play area for children. Do not allow children to play around machinery, workshops, storage buildings, or where work is occurring on the farm.
  • Assign farm chores to youth that are appropriate for their age such as those recommended in the North American Guidelines for Childhood Agricultural Tasks (NAGCAT).

Keeping Youth Safe Around Animals

  • Teach youth how to handle and work with animals safely.
  • Farm animals that are breeding, have newborns, or are sick can be aggressive - make sure children have no contact with these animals.
  • Children should wear proper protective clothing when handling animals. For example, youth should always wear a helmet when riding horses.
  • All household pets should have proper health checks and shots.

Keeping Youth Safe Around Machinery

  • Do not allow extra riders on tractors, all terrain vehicles (ATVs) and other farm equipment; follow the “ONE SEAT— ONE RIDER” rule.
  • NEVER leave keys in the ignition of machinery or vehicles.
  • Limit operation of ATVs, tractors, and machinery to older youth. ATV manufacturers recommend that riders be at least 16 years of age for ATVs 400 cc or larger, and that they take an ATV safety training course. Youth should not operate any ATV without wearing a helmet.
  • Child labor laws require that hired youth be at least 16 years old to operate tractors and machinery on farms, except for 14- and 15-year olds who have received operator certification. All youth should be properly trained before operating tractors or machinery.
  • Child labor laws do not apply to youth on their family’s farm. However, they are a good guide for when youth are old enough to do hazardous work safely.
  • Youth, like adults, should not operate farm tractors without a Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) and a seatbelt.
  • Youth should not operate tractors or other vehicles on public roads without a driver’s license.

Youth Farm Worker Dies after Falling into Operating Feed Grinder/Mixer

2002 — A 14-year-old youth farm worker died after falling into an operating cattle feed grinder/mixer. The victim was using a handheld hay hook to drop hay bales into the grinder from the top of a stack of hay bales. He apparently lost his footing, slipped, and fell into the grinder.
Feed Grinder/Mixer

Keeping Youth Safe Around Water

  • Always supervise children when playing in or near water.
  • All entrances to ponds, lagoons, pools, and manure pits should be restricted. All farm ponds should have water safety and rescue equipment.
  • Alcohol contributes to many teen drownings on farms. Talk to your teens about the dangers of drinking and swimming.
  • Never leave containers with standing water in areas where toddlers are present.

Farm operators who hire youth to work on their farm should be aware of all applicable child labor laws.

For More Information

National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety
1000 North Oak Avenue
Marshfield, Wisconsin 54449
Telephone: 1-888-924-SAFE (7233)

North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks (NAGCAT)
Telephone: 1-888-924-SAFE (7233)

Farm Safety 4 Just Kids
P.O. Box 458
Earlham, Iowa 50072
Telephone: 1-800-423-5437; 515-758-2827

U.S. Department of Labor
Frances Perkins Building
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
Telephone: 1-866-4-USA-DOL


Your State , and every state in the nation, has a health insurance program for infants, children, and teens. The insurance is available to children in working families. Make a free call to find out more about your State’s Program.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Telephone: 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669)

To receive NIOSH documents or for more information about occupational safety and health topics, contact:

1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)

1-888-232-6348 (TTY)


Visit the NIOSH Web site at:

Visit the NIOSH Childhood Agricultural Injury Initiative site at:

Safer · Healthier · People™
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2007-161
August 2007

Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health


silhouette of two farmers and a child

Acrobat IconThis document is also available in PDF format.

(2 pages, 437 KB)

get acrobat reader