Health of Persons Engaged in Farm Work

  • Chong, John


The objective of this literature search on the health of persons engaged in agricultural work with an analysis relating to the findings to Ontario is in accordance with the request for proposals published by the Ontario Task Force on Health and Safety in Agriculture in July, 1984. The tasks to be completed by the Occupational Health Program, McMaster University were:

  1. To assemble and review relevant literature concerning farm work-related injuries and illnesses.
  2. To relate the findings to agricultural conditions in Ontario.
  3. To identify priorities requiring further detailed study and analysis.

The first objective was achieved by a comprehensive review of relevant scientific literature concerning disease and injury of farm workers published in the scientific literature. Additional information was obtained from agricultural research centers and government sources. From information already obtained concerning the pattern of farming in Ontario it was possible to indicate areas likely to require detailed study. By identifying the most serious potential problems and also those which ar most likely to respond to preventive measures, specific recommendations are proposed.

These recommendations are as follows:

A detailed survey regarding exposure to pesticides and organic chemicals in farm work be carried out across Ontario to identify populations at risk of adverse health effects.

A health data collection system for agricultural health and safety be established to detect potential adverse health effects of farm work in Ontario.

An agricultural health and safety research program be organized within Ontario University to carry out descriptive and analytical epidemiological studies of the health of persons engaged in farm work.

An intensive educational program for family physicians, medical officers of health, physicians in postgraduate training, and medical and nursing students concerning occupational health and safety in agriculture be initiated in Ontario.

Preventive interventions including legislation and community-based worker education pertaining to the protection of the health of persons engaged in farm work in Ontario be brought into effect.


SOURCE: A background literature review. Hamilton, Ontario: The Occupational Health Program, McMaster University; 1985. 408.


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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