September, 1996 - No. 2F Childhood Agricultural Injury
The 1992 Census of Agriculture reported a total of 1.93 million
farms in the United States.1 In 1991, there were 923,000 children
under 15 years of age and 346,000 children 15-19 years of
age residing on U.S. farms and ranches.2
The National Agricultural Workers Survey data of 1989 estimated
there were 587,000 children of migrant workers age 21 or younger
involved in seasonal agricultural services in the United States.
Of these children, 65% travel with their parents but do not
do farm work; 6% travel and participate in farm work; another
29% travel on their own to do farm work.3
Studies have shown that from one-third to one-half of nonfatal
childhood agricultural injuries occur to children who do not
live on farms.4,5
There are an estimated 300 deaths to children younger than
20 years of age on U.S. farms and ranches each year.6
An estimated 27,000 children under the age of 20 years who
live on farms and ranches are injured each year.7 This figure
does not include children who visit or work on non-family
A study of agricultural injuries in children in central Wisconsin
revealed an overall incidence rate of 18.3 injuries per 1,000
farm resident children. Injury rates were highest among males
14-17 years at 27.2/1,000 farm resident children.8
The annual societal cost of childhood deaths and injuries
on farms and ranches is around 3 billion dollars. This total
includes direct medical costs, value of lost future earnings,
and quality of life.5
Data from the Traumatic Injury Surveillance of Farmers Survey
revealed that of the 12,873 occupational injuries among farm
workers ages 10 to 19 years, 89.2% were to males. Analysis
by race revealed 92.2% were white, 6.3% were Hispanic, and
1.5% were American Indian. Further analysis showed that 3.2%
of the injuries resulted in permanent disability.9
A review of childhood agricultural fatalities in Indiana and
Wisconsin over a 21 year period revealed that 93.3% of victims
In both the United States and in Canada, children younger
than 16 years of age comprise up to 20% of all farm fatalities.
Peak ages for agricultural trauma include early toddler years
through 4 years of age and middle adolescence. After the toddler
age, males consistently experience a greater rate of injuries
A study of 460 Wisconsin and Indiana childhood farm fatalities
found that 50% were associated with tractors.10
Among all working 16- and 17-year olds in the U.S. during
the years 1980-1989, machine-related deaths were the second
highest cause of occupational fatalities. Tractors alone accounted
for 44% of these machine-related deaths.12
Nonfatal farm injuries are often associated with livestock,
falls, small tools, building structures, and moving machinery
A multifaceted injury prevention approach, including stronger
links between federal leadership and health care providers
combined with legislation and education of farmers, is necessary
to reduce agricultural disease and injury conditions.14,15
Farm families are willing to allow their own children to engage
in high-risk farming activities at an earlier age than they
would recommend for other children.16
After reviewing 24 fatal and 259 (hospitalized) agricultural
machinery injuries to children, researchers recommended four
and/or subsidize the construction of barriers on farms to
prevent children from entering particularly hazardous areas.
with governments and farming organizations at all levels
to develop programs which could provide adequate child care
for rural residents.
with government and farming organizations to develop and
enforce standards for the safeguarding of all agricultural
the government to prohibit children from operating any farm
tractor before the age of 14 and to institute formal training
requirements for their operation.
Committee for Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention released
a national action plan in April, 1996. This plan describes 13
specific objectives and 43 recommended actions to be taken by
the different stakeholder groups (e.g., parents, farm owners,
agribusiness, researchers, educators). A systematic approach,
including evaluation of interventions, is needed to make a significant
impact on childhood agricultural injury reduction.18
of Agriculture. US Department of Commerce. Report No. AC92-A-51,1994:1.
LT, Dahmann DC. Residents of farms and rural areas: 1991.
Washington (DC): US Government Printing Office; 1993 US
Bureau of Census, Current Population Reports, P20-472.
Commission on Migrant Education. Invisible children: a portrait
of migrant education in the United States. A final report
of the National Commission on Migrant Education. Washington
(DC): US Government Printing Office 1992.
D, Mickel SH, Cleveland DA, Rothfusz RR, Zoch T, Stamas
P. The relationship of farm residency status to demographic
and service characteristics of agricultural injury victims
in central Wisconsin. The Journal of Rural Health 1995 Spring;11(2):98-105.
T. Unpublished tabulation and analysis of 1987-1992 National
Health Interview Survey data, Children's Safety Network Economics
and Insurance Resource Center, Landover (MD): National Public
Services Research Institute 1995.
FP. Fatal and nonfatal farm injuries to children and adolescents
in the United States. Pediatrics 1985;76:567.
SG, Gibson RW, Gunderson PD, French LR, Melton J, Erdman
A, et al. The Olmsted agricultural trauma study (OATS):
A population-based effort. A report to the Centers for Disease
Control March 1991. The estimate was developed using data
from pages 38-40 by staff at the National Farm Medicine
Center, and uses common denominators constructed from baseline
data compiled from US Department of Commerce and US Department
of Agriculture, Rural and Rural Farm Population: 1988; August
DT, Lee BC, Nordstrom DL, Layde PM, Wittman, LM. A population-based
case-control study of agricultural injuries in children.
Injury Prevention. In press.
JR. Special analysis of data from the National Institute
for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH Traumatic Injury
Surveillance of Farmers survey). Morgantown (WV): National
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health 1995.
EJ, Field WE. Fatal farm work-related injuries involving
children and adolescents in Wisconsin and Indiana. In: McDuffie
HH, Dosman JA, Semchuk KM, Olenchock SA, Senthilselvan A,
editors. Agricultural health and safety workplace, environment,
sustainability. Boca Raton (FL): Lewis Publishers, 1995:355-362.
MA. Fatal farm injuries to children. Marshfield (WI): Wisconsin
Rural Health Research Center 1990 May.
DN, Landen DD, Layne LA. Occupational injury deaths of 16
and 17- year-olds in the United States. American Journal
of Public Health 1994; 84:646-49.
D, Layde P, Lee B. Agricultural injuries in children in
central Wisconsin. The Journal of Trauma 1991; 31(11).
R, Murphy D, Westaby J. Reducing farm injuries: Issues and
methods [report]. St. Joseph (MI): American Society of Agricultural
DH, Foster Rea D. Preventive measures in agricultural settings.
In: Cordes DH, Foster Rea D, editors. Health hazards of
farming. Philadelphia: Hanley & Belfus, 1991:541-49.
C, Finck C. We kill too many farm kids. Successful Farming
W, Brison RJ, Hoey JR. Fatal and hospitalized agricultural
machinery injuries to children in Ontario, Canada. Injury
Committee for Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention.
Children and agriculture: Opportunities for safety and health.
Marshfield (WI): Marshfield Clinic, 1996.
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in
NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder.