Research/studies Agriculture, forestry and fishing

Study spotlights ‘true magnitude’ of ag injuries

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College Station, PA — Nonfatal on-the-job injuries in the agriculture industry may be undercounted by as much as 78% and are especially prevalent among young workers, results of a recent study by researchers from Pennsylvania State University and the University of Florida suggest.

Using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the researchers analyzed nationwide emergency room data between January 2015 and December 2019 and found that more than 62,000 individuals were treated for nonfatal injuries related to agricultural work.

In a press release, Judd Michael, study co-author and professor of agricultural safety and health at PSU, said the study results “revealed the true magnitude of the agricultural-related injury problem.” The release states that the benchmark for such data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, excludes self-employed farmers and farmworkers at facilities with fewer than 11 employees.

As a result, Michael said, agricultural injuries may be undercounted by around 78%.

 

“Small farms are family-oriented businesses, and often they have all their family members helping out,” Michael said. “And the kids who are helping out or visiting the farm are exposed to hazards that they may not understand or know how to react to. They’re not mature enough to foresee hazardous situations. And that leads to injuries or worse, in some cases, fatalities.”

Youth (30%) and older adults (22%) combined represented more than half of the individuals injured.

Additional findings show that fractures were the most common type of injury, followed by open wound or amputation. Agricultural vehicles, led by tractors, were the most common injury source, and most injuries occurred from April through September.

The study was published online in the Journal of Agromedicine.

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