This comprehensive study was conducted primarily to identify the common causes of agricultural injuries on active Virginia farms and to identify hazardous agricultural operations, exposure duration, and injuries associated with each hazardous operation. In addition, the influences of factors such as general health status of farmers, age, weight, and alcohol and tobacco use on injury were examined. This information will be used for the development of educational programs that will improve the safety of agricultural operations. The sample selected for the study included farms of 28 ha or more, operating on a full- or part-time basis. This stipulation was to ensure that all farms in the sample are active and that participants generated a major portion of their income from the farm. Of the 26,000 farms meeting this requirement, 1,650 were selected to participate in the study. A survey instrument was mailed to the farmers selected to collect the information needed for meeting the established objectives of the study. Approximately 19% of the surveys were returned. In terms of percentage injuries, livestock handling was the primary cause. This was followed by working in elevated locations, operating and repairing agricultural machinery, and heavy lifting. The activities carried out most frequently by the participants were: operating farm tractors, operating trucks/automobiles, using hand and power tools, and working with agricultural chemicals. The overall injury rate was 5.6 injuries per 100,000 hours. The exposure to agricultural hazards appeared to have minimal or no effect on the health status of Virginia farmers. Farm workers in the 45 to 64 age group sustained the most injuries. Older, more experienced farmers reported fewer injuries because of limited exposure to hazards and work experience. The average age of Virginia farmers surveyed was 60. This is expected to rise because most respondents reported no plans to retire during the next five years. Based on the results, educational programs for improving the agricultural safety in Virginia should focus on aging farmers, hazardous agricultural activities, and weight control.
Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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