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Government undercounts agriculture injuries, study says

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Sacramento, CA – Federal agency statistics vastly undercount the number of nonfatal injuries and illnesses in the agricultural industry, according to a new study from the University of California Davis School of Medicine.

Researchers estimate that the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses misses an average of about 78 percent of injuries and illnesses that occur on crop and animal farms. They suggest the undercounting is likely due to the government focusing on mid- to large-sized farms (where less than 50 percent of agriculture employees work) and the exclusion of small farms, self-employed farmers and family members.

The study’s injury and illness estimates were based on larger data sets that included SOII, the National Agricultural Workers Survey, the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and the Current Population Survey. The data included all farming enterprises, including those with fewer than 11 employees.

Undercounting injuries and illnesses in the industry makes it more difficult to identify and address occupational health problems, the researchers claim.

The study was published in the April issue of the journal Annals of Epidemiology.