Agricultural Health and Safety
According to the 2012 Fact Sheet: Childhood Agricultural Injuries in the U.S., agriculture has the second highest fatality rate among youth workers compared to all industries, with machinery accidents, motor vehicles, and drowning being the main cause of death. Many youth are injured in nonfatal injuries while performing farm work, working with livestock, and operating farm equipment.
The Department of Agriculture reports there are 2.2 million farms in the U.S., with an estimated 1 million children living on these farms. According to Blueprint for Protecting Children in Agriculture: The 2012 National Action Plan, in 2009, an estimated 15,000 nonfatal injuries occurred to children.
Health risks farmers are exposed to include:
Things farmers can do to protect themselves from health risks are:
According to studies done by the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, children who live near pesticide-treated farmland may have higher exposures than children living further away from spray activities. A study of preschool children living in the tree fruit regions where agricultural spraying occurs had increased levels of pesticide in their urine compared to periods of non-spraying.
Another study discovered that children of lead-exposed construction workers were six times more likely to have blood lead levels over the recommended limit as compared to children whose parents did not work in lead-related industries.
To protect family members from take-home contamination, a
few things can be done such as changing into clean
clothing and shoes before leaving work, removing shoes
before entering the house, washing hands often, and
washing work clothes separately.
Growers should provide employees with the time and facilities to change clothes and wash, as is required in high exposure lead jobs. Growers can support conscientious employees who are taking precautions and encourage lax workers to begin doing so. It is through this kind of active cooperation between workers and producers that we can both secure the benefits of pesticide use and minimize the risks associated with these chemicals.
Last Reviewed: 8/28/2013