Injuries to hired crop workers in the United States: a descriptive analysis of a national probability survey

Am J Ind Med. 2011 Oct;54(10):734-47. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20980. Epub 2011 Jun 20.


Background: Little empirical data are available examining the injury experience of hired crop workers in the United States (US). This study analyzed work-related injury data collected on these workers from a national survey.

Methods: Data were collected through the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) for the federal fiscal years 1999, 2002, 2003, and 2004. These data provided descriptive injury characteristics and rate estimates from a sample of 13,604 crop farm workers.

Results: The injury rate was 4.3 injuries per 100 week-based full-time equivalents (FTE(WB) ). The majority of the injuries occurred to male (84%) and Mexican born (72%) workers. Shuttle migrants had the highest injury rate at 7.2 injuries/100 FTE(WB) . Workers reporting one or more health conditions and workers reporting one or more musculoskeletal complaints had higher injury. The most common injury events were overexertion from lifting (20%), being struck by hand held objects (13%), and falls to a lower level (10%). Injuries due to falls to a lower level accounted for the highest average number of restricted workdays (45 days).

Conclusions: The use of hand tools, falls, and lifting overexertion injuries were identified as significant causes of injury among hired crop workers. Increased injury risk was also seen for crop workers with existing health or musculoskeletal complaints. These results are useful for targeting injury prevention efforts and future research needs for this unique worker population. Am. J. Ind. Med. 54:734-747, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Agriculture / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Lifting / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Transients and Migrants / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult