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California Farm Survey of Occupational Injuries and Hazards

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

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. Special Issue (1):99-108 . (doi: 10.13031/2013.15379) @1998
Authors:   A. M. Osorio, J. Beckman, C. R. Geiser, E. L. Husting, A. Inai, K. F. Summerill
Keywords:   Agricultural health, California, Farm worker, Occupational injuries, Farm hazards

It has been well-recognized that farm workers are at very high risk for occupational injuries. Due to the unique composition of the California agricultural industry and workforce, especially the migrant farm worker population, a survey of farms in two agricultural counties was conducted. The primary goal of the survey is to evaluate commodity-specific farm injuries and hazards in two highly agricultural regions in California with a high proportion of migrant farm labor, Fresno and Monterey Counties. The specific aim was to evaluate a total of 350 farms randomly selected after stratification for commodity and farm size. Each farm evaluation consisted of a farm owner/operator interview, seven randomly selected worker interviews, and a standardized health and safety walk-though survey. From 1992 through 1996, field visits and data collection have been completed for 357 farms (representing over 2000 worker interviews and 157 walk-through evaluations). Preliminary results indicate a work force of mostly Hispanic men (approximately 89%) with a mean age of 38. There were high prevalences of musculoskeletal problems in the lower back (24%), upper back (19%) and wrist (18%) regions of the body. During the past year, 29% of the workers reported occupational injuries associated with farm work, farm equipment or transportation. Among the injured workers, 20% reported multiple incidents, 27% missed at least one day of work, 46% saw a licensed medical care provider, and 22% knew of a workers compensation report being filed. Only 70% of the injured workers reported received training on the work task that was associated with their injury. The final California Farm Survey will allow a unique view of the farming industry in the State from the concurrent perspective of the owner/operator, the farm worker and the study walk-through evaluator.

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