- Safety and Health Topics
- Agricultural Operations
- In 2011, 570 agricultural workers died from work-related injuries.1 The fatality rate for agricultural workers was 7 times higher than the fatality rate for all workers in private industry; agricultural workers had a fatality rate of 24.9 deaths per 100,000, while the fatality rate for all workers was 3.5.3
- The leading cause of death for farmworkers between 1992 and 2009 was tractor overturns, accounting for over 90 deaths annually. The most effective way to prevent tractor overturn deaths is the use of Roll-Over Protective Structures; however in 2006 only 59% of tractors used on farms in the US were equipped with these devices.2
- Every day, about 243 agricultural workers suffer a serious lost-work-time injury. Five percent of these injuries result in permanent impairment.2
- In 2011, the injury rate for agricultural workers was over 40 percent higher than the rate for all workers. Crop production agricultural workers' injury rates were 5.5 per 100 workers. Animal production agricultural workers’ injury rates were 6.7 per 100 workers. The rate for all workers was 3.8.4
- Young workers who live and work on farms are also exposed to potentially dangerous farm-related hazards. Farm operators who hire youth to work on their farm should be aware of all applicable child labor laws.
- Approximately one half of farmworkers are Hispanic. OSHA requires that employers conduct all required training of workers in a language and vocabulary workers can understand. OSHA lists Spanish-language outreach resources on the following pages: Hispanic Outreach Module of Compliance Assistance Quick Start, Spanish-Language Compliance Assistance Resources, Spanish-Language Publications, and Podemos Ayudar (We Can Help).
Agricultural operations are covered by several Occupational Safety and Health standards including Agriculture (29 CFR 1928), General Industry (29 CFR 1910), and the General Duty Clause. You can view all of the applicable OSHA standards, preambles to final rules, directives and standard interpretations for agricultural operations, as well as other Federal standards applicable to Agriculture here.
Note: For all Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data in this Safety and Health Topics Page, "agricultural worker" refers to any worker in the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (GP2AFH) industry. These numbers are the best available representation of workers in the agricultural industry.
Workers have the right to:
- Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
- Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA's rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
- Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.
For additional information, see OSHA's Workers page.
How to Contact OSHA
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.
- Green Tobacco Sickness. OSHA-NIOSH Recommended Practices, (2015). Also available in Spanish.
- Tree Care Work: Falls and Falling Object Hazards (PDF | EPUB | MOBI). OSHA Hazard Bulletin (Publication HB-3731), (2014). Also available in Spanish | EPUB | MOBI).
- Safe Use of Tripod Orchard Ladders. OSHA Fact Sheet (Publication FS-3728), (2014).
- Protecting Workers from Tripod Orchard Ladder Injuries. OSHA QuickCard™ (Publication 3705), (2014). Also available in Spanish.
Farmworkers are at high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries, work-related lung diseases, noise-induced hearing loss, skin diseases, and certain cancers associated with chemical use and prolonged sun exposure.
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), United States Department of Labor. Occupational Injuries and Illnesses and Fatal Injuries Profiles database queried by industry for Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (GP2AFH), Accessed June 2013.
2 Agricultural Safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic.
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor. Number and rate of fatal occupational injuries, by industry section, 2011. Available online.
4 Workplace Injuries and Illnesses - 2011. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) News Release, October 25, 2012.