Background: Northeast farmworkers are a small, widely dispersed, and isolated population. Little is known about their occupational injury and illness risk.
Methods: Researchers conducted chart reviews in migrant health centers across the Northeast, and calculated incidence-density for agricultural morbidity based on a new method for estimating total worker hours at risk, and adjusting for cases seen at other sources of care.
Results: An estimated annual average of 1,260 cases translated to an incidence of 30.27 per 10,000 worker weeks, (12.7 per 100 FTEs). Straining/spraining events (56% cases) was the most common occurrence (16.8 per 10,000 worker weeks), and lifting (21.5% cases) was the leading contributing factor. Incidence by crop category ranged from 12.95 (ground crop) to 29.69 (bush crop) per 10,000 weeks. Only 2.8% filed for Workers' Compensation.
Conclusion: The predominance of straining/spraining events affecting the back, and their association with lifting suggests that Northeastern farmworker occupational health programs should focus on ergonomics, and specifically on safe lifting.
Keywords: agriculture; farmworker; migrant; musculoskeletal straining/spraining event; occupational; surveillance; surveillance methods.
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