Background: In Denmark, farming ranks as the industry with the highest incidence rate of fatal injuries. For nonfatal injuries, insufficient registration practices prevent valid comparisons between occupations. This study examines the occurrence of farm accidents and injuries, as well as work-specific factors, via weekly registration in a representative sample of 393 farms in one county during 1 year.
Methods: From a random sample of 794 farms, (10% of farms in the county of Ringkoebing, Denmark) 393 farms with 1,597 residents and employees participated in a 1-year self-registration of work-related unintentional incidents. The procedure included a detailed registration of hours spent on all main working tasks. Weekly recording of incident occurrence or nonoccurrence resulted in the completion of 19,782 registration forms. Three months after incident occurrence, a telephone interview was conducted about the related work situation and resulting injuries.
Results: During the 12-month period, 479 occupational accidents were reported, of which 389 resulted in an injury. The absolute number of injuries increased with number of work hours, but there was no relative increase of incidence by work hours. Persons below the age of 50 had slightly less than a doubled risk compared with those over 50 years of age. No other marked, reliable age effect was found. There was, however, a seasonal variation, with summer and autumn having a double relative incidence compared with winter and spring. Among farm owners, 35% experienced at least one injury per year, while this was the case for 17% of farm laborers. When adjusting for work hours, the increased frequency of injuries among farm owners was reduced to a factor of 1.5. Animal-related work was the most common injury mechanism. Repair and maintenance work was found to be the most dangerous task relative to the number of task-specific work hours. Subgroups of tasks with a markedly increased injury rate were moving animals within the farm, veterinary procedures, and repair of field machinery and stable equipment.
Conclusions: Farm injuries occur among 32% of full-time farmers and farm laborers each year. A quarter of these require professional treatment. This area calls for preventive action.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.