Edited by E. Kevin Kelloway and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 5: Hidden Occupational Fatalities in the Agricultural Industry
Peter Y. Chen and Lorann Stallones Agricultural work is accompanied with diverse hazards in the process of plowing, planting, growing, fertilizing, harvesting, packing, loading, repairing pens and gates, raising livestock, milking, breeding, birthing, tending sick or injured animals, mixing feed, feeding, moving animals, cleaning stalls and corrals, and so on (Cigularov et al., 2009). Many farm workers apply pesticides and fertilizers to crops, and operate and repair farm equipment. Most of the above activities are physically challenging. During planting and harvesting of crops, workers are in the fields for many hours and often work every day of the week. Those involved in livestock operations, particularly in dairy operations must also work long hours every day of the week tending to the cows. Based on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA, 2010), there were 2.2 million farms that had generated approximately $331 billion in 2009. Of these farms, more than 90 percent were owned by individuals or families. Most farms involve relatively few acres, with 54.4 percent operating 1–99 acres and 31 percent operating 100–499 acres. The critical contribution of the agricultural industry to the society, however, is accompanied by an unacceptable loss of workers’ lives. Over the past two decades, this industry has been ranked as the most dangerous occupation (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health [NIOSH], 2010) based on rates of fatal and non-fatal injuries. The fatality rate for farm workers is approximately six times higher than the average rate for all industries (22.5/100 000...
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