Occupational Injury Rates among Hired Farmworkers

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Villarejo, Don


A new method for determining occupational injury incidence rates among hired farmworkers is presented. The method relies exclusively on reports pertaining to all paid claims by hired farmworkers under workers compensation insurance and is sufficiently specific to determine incidence rates for persons employed in each of 14 different types of agricultural commodities.

The Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California (WCIRB) provided summaries of case reports including injury date, type of injury, body part affected, nature of injury, weekly earnings of claimant, medical payments, indemnity payments (if any), and the Risk Classification code in which the injury occurred, which is a type of categorization of the commodity group in which the injury occurred. In addition, the WCIRB provided total wages paid by all employers in each risk classification code as a surrogate for direct measurement of exposure. The number of reported paid claims under workers compensation insurance by hired farmworkers in California for the period 1978-1994 totaled 673,316.

Aggregate wages and average weekly earnings for each risk classification code were used to determine annual average employment (FTE). The total number of reported paid claims within each classification code was then utilized to compute the incidence rate for occupational injury in the respective category. From these data an overall incidence rate for California hired farmworkers is calculated.

The 1994 incidence rates for non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses found using this method ranged from a high of 19,660 cases per 100,000 FTE for stock farm and feed yard workers to a low of 4,440 cases per 100,000 FTE for berry farmworkers. Overall, the incidence rate among all California hired farm workers in 1994 was found to be 10,546 per 100,000 FTE. These results compare favorably to other recent determinations of incidence rates for injury among hired farmworkers.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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