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Fatal Work Injuries Involving Farmworkers, 1991-1995

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. Special Issue (1):47-55 . (doi: 10.13031/2013.15374) @1998
Authors:   S. May-Lambert, S. Richardson, K. Herrmann
Keywords:   Farmworker, Fatalities,Texas

A study of fatal work injuries in Texas involving farmworkers (as defined by the Bureau of the Census Occupational Classification System) from 1991 through 1995 was conducted using information from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program. A total of 78 work-related deaths involving farmworkers occurred in Texas over the five-year period of the study; this accounts for about one third of all the traumatic work-related deaths recorded in the states agriculture industry over that period. A rate of 20 fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 workers was calculated for Texas farmworkers for the period of the study.

Demographic findings indicate that male farmworkers were involved in all but one of the fatal incidents and two out of every five fatally injured farmworkers were 55 years of age or older. Over 40% of the fatal farmworker injuries involved workers of Hispanic origin, though on a rate basis, Hispanics had lower fatality rates than non-Hispanic Whites or Blacks. Fatal work injuries involving vehicles (32 deaths), combined with those involving machinery (16 deaths) accounted for 62% of the fatal work injuries involving farmworkers. Nearly one out of every four fatal farmworker injuries involved non-highway transportation events, including 12 involving overturned vehicles. Other fatal work-related events included being struck by objects (13%), being caught in equipment (9%), oxygen deficiency (8%), falls to lower levels (8%), and contact with electric current (6%).

One of the problems encountered during the study was the inclusiveness of the current farmworker definition which precludes adequate analysis of key subgroups such as migrant farmworkers. In addition, employment estimates for this occupation varied considerably among the various sources studied. The need for reliable employment counts and more precise occupational classifications for this population are needed if population-based surveillance and subsequent intervention efforts are to be successful.

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