New research suggests that the agriculture industry is more dangerous than previously believed. The research revealed that from 2015 to 2019, more than 60,000 people across the United States were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal, agricultural-related injuries.
Significantly, nearly a third of those injured were youths, according to study author Judd Michael. Michael is a professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. “We were slightly surprised at the sheer number of farm-related injuries and concerned by the high number of youths who were injured,” Michael said.
The researchers conducted a cross-sectional study using data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for patients treated in emergency departments over the five-year period. Over the period, an estimated 62,079 people were treated in an emergency department for agricultural-related injuries. According to findings recently published in the Journal of Agromedicine, the most common injury was fracture, followed by open wound or amputation. The primary source of injury was in the vehicles category, with tractors being the dominant vehicle type.
Historically, researchers have known that youth are at greater risk than adults for injury around a farm or ag environment, but it is not necessarily because they are working, Michael noted. Rather, in family farm environments where the kids are present, they are exposed to dangers. “Small farms are family-oriented businesses, and often they have all their family members helping out,” he said.
“Agriculture and forestry are among the most hazardous industries in the U.S., and part of our overall goal here at Penn State in the ag safety and health program … is to conduct research that will help us understand the causes of injuries and fatalities,” Michael said. “Because we know that if we understand why they happen, it’s much easier to prevent them.”
Serap Gorucu, assistant professor of risk analysis, safety and health of agricultural systems at the University of Florida, and Kelly Chege, doctoral degree student in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Penn State, contributed to the research.
The work was supported in part by the Nationwide Insurance Endowment for Agricultural Safety & Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Source: Penn State