Occupational Health and Safety for Agricultural Workers

  • Bondy, Marcia K.;
  • Lebow, Robert H.;
  • O'Malley, Mary A.;
  • Reilly, Terry


This report describes activities undertaken at a rural primary health care facility located in the agricultural center of South-western Idaho. The goal of the activities was to evaluate an occupational safety and health program for agricultural workers which was integrated into the facility's everyday operations.

Basic objectives of the project were:

  1. To assess how an agricultural occupational safety and health program can be delivered to a farming community;
  2. To evaluate how medical persons (physicians, nurse practitioners, etc.) can assess the physical well-being of farm-related persons (what to look for, what questions to ask the patient . . .);
  3. To pinpoint "perceived" and "real" agriculture- related illnesses and disabilities in both farmer and farmworker populations;
  4. To carefully examine migrant farmworker problems and the workers' responses to a safety and health program;
  5. To find methods to increase clinician interest in occupationally-related accidents and illnesses; and
  6. To integrate preventive health measures, such as "health education", into an agricultural population at the time of a medical encounter and on the farm or ranch.

Baseline data on problems related to the safety and health of farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers of this geographic area were not available when the project was undertaken. Therefore, the project spent much of its efforts in the collection of baseline information. This information was obtained by offering complete physical examinations to farmers, ranchers, farmworkers, and their families. The examinations included patient education concerning agricultural health and safety and occupational histories, in addition to the standard examination and necessary laboratory work. Aside from providing subjective and objective baseline data, the examination facilitated clinician education and training in agricultural-related health problems. A total of 640 examinations were completed, reviewed, and statistically analyzed. In addition to in-clinic activities, activities outside of the clinic setting included 141 informal interviews with farmers/ farmworkers; surveys of farm-related agencies, organizations, and businesses; various educational activities; and 25 professional walk-through evaluations of farm and ranches.

Although very few objective agriculture-related health problems were uncovered, clinical formats for examining and recording such problems were designed and tested. Subjective data from the interviews revealed numerous health and safety problems which are addressed in the report.

This report was submitted in fulfillment of Contract CDC-99-74-27 by Community Health Clinics, Inc. under the sponsorship of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


SOURCE: Cincinnati, Ohio: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; 1976. 129.


This document was extracted from the CDC-NIOSH Epidemiology of Farm Related Injuries: Bibliography With Abstracts, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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