Agriculture is one of the most hazardous industries in the United States. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety
and Health (NIOSH), 368 farmers and agricultural workers died from a work-related injury in 2020, a rate
of 18.0 deaths per 100,000 workers. Each day, agricultural workers experience 100 non-fatal lost-work-time
injuries. Transportation incidents, including tractor rollovers, were the leading cause of death, but many other
hazards exist on the farm.
Agriculture is different from many industries in that it can present hazards to people not actively involved in
the industry, such as family members living on the farm and visitors, in addition to workers. Additionally,
hazards may exist for emergency medical services personnel and other healthcare professionals as they provide
assistance and care to victims of farm accidents.
This topic guide focuses specifically on the health and safety issues inherent in the agricultural industry.
This includes migrant workers hired to work on farms who are included in data relating to agricultural health
and safety. However, if you are interested specifically in the health and healthcare of migrant or seasonal
workers, see RHIhub's Rural Migrant Health topic guide.
Frequently Asked Questions
What chronic and acute health risks are farmers and farmworkers exposed to?
Health risks for farmers and farmworkers include:
Exposure to farm chemicals, such as pesticides and fertilizers, as well as toxic gases which may be
produced from common farm practices like manure decomposition and silo crop storage
Exposure to high levels of dust, which can contain mold, bacteria, and animal droppings, among other
Falls from ladders, farm equipment, grain bins, or other heights
Exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, which can result in skin cancer
Joint and ligament injuries, which can result in arthritic conditions affecting mobility
Exposure to loud noises and sounds from machinery and equipment which can result in hearing loss
Stress from environmental factors, such as droughts, floods, wildfires, pests, and diseases affecting crops
and livestock, as well as from working long hours, financial concerns, and feelings of isolation and
Risk of suffocation in a grain bin if a person is engulfed by the grain
Risk of heatstroke, frostbite, or hypothermia from working outside in extreme weather conditions
Risk of injury from operating farm equipment and motorized vehicles
Risk of injury from working with livestock
Risk of electrocution to persons operating large equipment that can contact overhead power lines
What are some mental health concerns for farmers and ranchers and their families?
In addition to physical injuries, farmers are also at risk of behavioral and mental health issues such as
anxiety, depression, substance use, and death by suicide. Due to environmental, financial, and social factors,
there are a number of stressors inherent in farming and farm ownership.
For information on farmer mental health in rural America, see the Rural
Response to Farmer Mental Health and Suicide Prevention topic guide.
How many children are involved in agricultural injuries? What resources are available
related to preventing farm accidents among children and youth?
According to a 2022
report from the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, every day about
33 children are injured in agriculture-related incidents. Injuries to children that occur while living,
working, or visiting agricultural work environments (primarily farms) are considered agricultural injuries,
whether or not the child was actively involved in farming at the time. Children who might be injured on
farms include youth hired to work on the farm, farm children actively involved in the farming operations,
farm children not involved in farming operations, and even children who are visiting the farm. Hazards for
children on the farm include animals, farm equipment, grain bins, heights, ponds/water, chemicals/gases,
all-terrain vehicles, and many others.
Fatalities also occur as a result of child farm accidents. According to a 2017 report from the National Institute
for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), from 1994-2013 there were a total of 389 agricultural fatalities for
youth under 18 years of age. The 2022
Fact Sheet: Childhood Agricultural Injuries in the U.S. lists machinery accidents, transportation
injuries (including from tractors and ATVs), and violent contact with animals and other humans as common causes
The following resources provide tips, information, and assistance related to the safety of youth working in
agriculture, as well as those that live on or visit farms:
Youth in Agriculture – Resource
from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which identifies common agricultural
hazards and provides safety solutions for employers and young workers to prevent accidents and avoid
injury in agricultural related jobs.
National Children's Center for Rural and
Agricultural Health and Safety – Provides technical assistance and resources regarding
children and adolescents living in rural areas and working in agriculture and is funded by NIOSH. NCCRAHS
also produces Cultivate Safety, which provides information,
guidelines, and resources about children's farm safety for parents and other responsible adults.
Employment – U.S. Department of Labor information on federal and state labor laws pertaining
Invest in Your Health – AgriSafe
online or onsite course with training materials available to ag educators. Provides lessons and activities
on five key areas of ag health and safety.
Which local agencies can help support the development of an agricultural health and safety program?
Local and county cooperative
extension offices and public health offices often can provide resources to develop an agricultural
health and safety program. Use this directory of local
health departments to find the local public health office in your area. State resources that support
research and education on agricultural health and safety can be found in the Resources section of the OSHA website.
Also, local service clubs and faith-based organizations may provide some assistance with the development of an
agricultural health and safety program.
What federal agencies focus on agricultural health and safety?
Several federal agencies concentrate on agricultural health and safety issues.
The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Farm Safety program supports Cooperative Extension Service programs
that promote safety by training workers in appropriate field practices, safe use of equipment, and proper
maintenance of equipment.
The CDC's NIOSH Centers for Agricultural Disease and
Research, Education, and Prevention promote the health and safety of agricultural workers and their
families. NIOSH's Agriculture, Forestry, and
Fishing Research Program works to identify long-term safety and health research for production
agriculture. Also, NIOSH's Office of Agriculture Safety
and Health (OASH) sets strategic directions for, supports, and monitors and reports progress on safety
and health research in agriculture.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health
Administration (OSHA) supports safe and healthful working conditions by setting and enforcing standards
and by providing training, outreach, and education.
The Environmental Protection Agency's Occupational
Pesticide Safety and Health program focuses on worker safety in industries that use pesticides and sets
requirements for safe pesticide handling, such as the Agricultural
Worker Protection Standard (WPS).
The Health Resources & Services Administration's Federal Office
of Rural Health Policy offers funding opportunities and resources to support rural health projects.
Are there funding sources available for nonprofits to support agricultural health and safety programs?
The NIOSH-funded Centers for Agricultural Safety and
Health may offer funding opportunities for activities such as pilot programs, research initiatives, and
education and outreach.
The CHS Seeds for Stewardship Grants provide matching grants to cooperatives for
projects designed to develop the next generation of agricultural leaders, improve agricultural safety, and
enhance rural vitality.
As part of Grain Bin Safety Week, the Grain Bin Rescue Equipment and Training
Contest offers awards of grain bin rescue tubes and hands-on rescue training to selected rural first
A current list of federal, state and foundation grants and programs supporting the development of agricultural
health and safety projects is available by visiting the Funding & Opportunities section of this
What programs or resources are available that can assist agricultural employers to develop safety measures to
protect their employees?
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational
Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Agricultural Operations provides a variety of resources and
statistics on the hazards of working in agriculture.
The USDA NIFA's Cooperative Extension
System is an educational network providing practical, research-based information to agricultural
producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and rural communities nationwide.
The NIOSH Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury
Research, Education, and Prevention conduct research, education, and prevention projects that support
the health and safety of agricultural workers.
The National Center for Farmworker Health is a private, not-for-profit
organization providing information, training, and technical assistance on agricultural safety and health.
The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety provides education
and training focused on promoting safety, and preventing illnesses, injuries, and deaths among farmers and
ranchers, agricultural and horticultural workers, their families, and their employees.
The National Tractor Safety
Coalition is a multi-sector working group with the mission of preventing tractor related deaths in the
U.S. agricultural industry.
Are resources available that provide special training to healthcare personnel when treating farm injuries and
In rural areas where agriculture is common, first responders and healthcare personnel must be prepared to treat
agricultural injuries. In addition to providing proper care to the patient, personnel must be able to identify
when hazards exist for themselves. For instance, if EMS personnel respond to a grain bin engulfment, they must
be careful to avoid becoming engulfed. Likewise, if a farmworker presents at the emergency room due to chemical
exposure, proper protocols should be used to ensure that healthcare workers aren't also exposed.
Several national organizations provide training on agricultural medicine to healthcare personnel, including:
The AgriSafe Network provides learning opportunities, such as webinars and
courses in agricultural medicine, providing the skills necessary for health and safety professionals to
identify, prevent, and treat occupational illnesses and injuries among agricultural workers. A 20-hour
continuing education course, AgriSafe Nurse Scholar, as well as several additional individual continuing
education courses for nurses and other healthcare professionals, are also available through AgriSafe.
OSHA offers a Clinicians section with information and
resources to aid clinicians working with workers of all occupations, including farmworkers. Presents
information on Evaluating Occupational
Exposures and Injuries for farmworkers.
The Migrant Clinicians Network offers Pesticides
information, with clinical tools to help clinicians recognize and manage pesticide exposure in farmworkers.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Agricultural Center and the Medical University of South
Carolina published the Recognition
and Management of Pesticide Poisonings manual giving healthcare providers a reference source on
toxicology and for treating patients with exposure to pesticides.
The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG)
presents information and statistics to inform workers, employers, and occupational health professionals
about hazardous chemicals that may be found in agriculture.