Use of protective equipment among California farmers

Am J Ind Med. 2002 Nov;42(5):455-64. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10134.


Background: Agriculture is a hazardous industry associated with many occupational injuries and illnesses. We describe California farmers' self-reported exposure to five agricultural hazards and their use of protective equipment.

Methods: A telephone survey of 1,947 California farmers recorded information on occupational exposure, health outcomes and use of protective equipment to lessen risk from exposure to dust, sun, noise, pesticides and tractors.

Results: Over 93% of respondents reported using personal protection around pesticides; however, fewer than 1/3 used consistent protection against other hazards. Younger age and male sex were associated with better use of protection from dust, noise, pesticide and tractors, but negatively associated with sun protection. There was no consistent relationship of protective behaviors with cigarette smoking, living on the farm, marital status, or time in non-administrative farmwork. Risk perception was strongly associated with behavior; farmers concerned about specific health problems were much more likely to use protective equipment.

Conclusions: Some farmer characteristics are associated with more safe behaviors, but efforts to encourage protective behaviors on farms should be broadly based in view of a lack of a single risk-taking profile among California farmers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / prevention & control*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Agriculture / instrumentation
  • California
  • Dust / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise / prevention & control
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Pesticides
  • Protective Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Factors
  • Sunlight
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use
  • Telephone


  • Dust
  • Pesticides
  • Sunscreening Agents