National surveillance of occupational fatalities in agriculture

Am J Ind Med. 1990;18(2):163-8. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700180208.


Agriculture is one of the most hazardous industries in the United States. Although estimates vary, all reporting agencies show agriculture having an occupational fatality rate three to five times higher than that of the general private sector. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Division of Safety Research's National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) data base monitors occupational fatal injuries in all industries in the United States through death certificates. Uniform case-selection criteria are applied nationwide. NTOF shows that for the years 1980 through 1985, agriculture had a work-related fatality rate of 20.7 deaths per 100,000 workers compared with 7.9 deaths per 100,000 workers for the private sector U.S. work force. Age-specific rates indicate that the risk of fatal occupational injury increases with age for agricultural workers. Workers over 64 years old have an average annual rate of 55.7 deaths per 100,000 workers. Other uses of the surveillance system, as well as its limitations, are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / mortality*
  • Agriculture*
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.*
  • Humans
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S.*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology