H445 Occupational Health
Agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. Farmers are at very high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries, and farming is one of the few industries in which family members are also at risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries. In 1990, Congress directed NIOSH to develop an agricultural safety and health program to address the high risks of injuries and illnesses experienced by workers and families in agriculture. NIOSH supports intramural research and prevention programs at university centers in twenty states. These programs conduct research on injuries associated with agriculture, as well as pesticide exposure, pulmonary disease, musculoskeletal disorders, hearing loss, and stress. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013) Farmworkers are exposed to many safety, health, environmental, biological, and respiratory hazards. These include vehicle rollovers, heat exposure, falls, musculoskeletal injuries, hazardous equipment, grain bins, unsanitary conditions, pesticides, and many others.
Workers exposed to hot and humid conditions are at a high risk of heat illness, especially if they are doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment. New workers may also be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions. Workers in agricultural operations for both crop and animal production typically use repetitive motions in awkward positions and which can cause musculoskeletal injuries. Farmworkers routinely use knives, hoes, and other cutting tools, work on ladders, or use machinery in their shops. These tools can be hazardous, and have the potential for causing severe injuries when used or maintained improperly. The lack of drinking water, sanitation facilities, and hand washing facilities can lead to many health effects. Farmworkers may suffer heat stroke and heat exhaustion from an insufficient intake of water, urinary tract
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