Agricultural work related injury and Ill-health and the economic cost

  • Melville H. Litchfield
Literature Review: Occupational Accidents and Economic Cost

Abstract

This paper contains a literature review of the occupational injuries and ill-health in agriculture world-wide and a survey of the attempts that have been made to estimate the resulting economic and social costs.

Agricultural workers suffer a wide variety of disorders as a result of their occupation. These range from minor (cuts, bruises) to more severe (deep wounds, fractures), permanent (amputation, spinal cord injury) and fatal injury. Ill-health as a result of contact with animals, micro-organisms, plant material dusts or chemicals are associated with certain types of agriculture. There is an underlying but unquantified incidence of pain, stress and injury as a result of ergonomic problems due to poor working procedures and conditions. Statistics from many countries or regions show that agriculture consistently has one of the highest accident and injury rates of the industrial sectors.

There are many causes for the work related injury and ill-health in agricultural workers. In developed countries, tractors and other machinery cause a significant proportion of the accidents and are a major cause of occupational deaths. In less developed countries, accidents due to hand tools such as hoes, sickles and cutting instruments are most prevalent. Animals are a significant cause of injury and ill-health in many countries. Debilitating allergic reactions in the respiratory tract or the skin are caused by exposures to organic dusts, or by contact with allergenic plants in the field respectively. Where comparative data are available, occupational pesticide poisoning in agriculture is a small proportion (< 1–4%) of the total work related disorders.

Because of the wide variety of occupational risks to agricultural workers, it is emphasised that if one type of agricultural practice is replaced by another then the risks from the alternative procedure need to be considered. If, for example, agrochemical pest control practices are replaced by methods involving the increased use of machinery, draught animals or manual operations, then an assessment of the resulting risks should be taken into account.

Some of the economic costs of occupational injury and ill-health in agriculture can be quantified directly, such as medical costs, the cost of rehabilitation and loss of earnings. Other costs are more difficult to estimate such as loss of opportunity and income foregone for permanent and fatal injury and for the effect on a victim’s family. The estimation of the overall economic costs to farming communities and national agriculture requires further development. When one agricultural practice is replaced wholly or partly by another, for example agrochemical pest control by alternative control methods, then it is necessary to take into account the occupational health costs of the alternative procedure for realistic comparative assessment.

There are a number of issues which require continued or increased attention by the relevant national and international authorities and by the agricultural industry. These include the improved collection and collation of occupational health statistics, a better understanding of the extent of ergonomic problems in agriculture, more realistic assessments of the cost of occupational injury and ill-health and the continued need to reduce occupational health disorders by appropriate training and education in agricultural practices and the use of agricultural equipment.

Keywords

Agricultural workers economic cost ergonomics injury and illness occupational accidents 

References

  1. [1]
    Erlich, S.M.;Driscoll, T.R.;Harrison, J.E.;Frommer, M.S. &Leigh, J. (1993): Work-related agricultural fatalities in Australia, 1982–1984. Scand. J. Work Environ. Health 19: 162–167Google Scholar
  2. [2]
    Work Safe Western Australia (1997): Work Safe Statistics, Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing Industry. January 1997 Bulletin (4 pages)Google Scholar
  3. [3]
    Nogueira, D.P. (1987): Prevention of accidents & injuries in Brazil. Ergonomics 30: 387–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. [4]
    Brison, R.J. &Lawrence, C.W. (1992): Non-fatal farm injuries on 117 Eastern Ontario Beef and Dairy Farms: A one-year study. Am. J. Ind. Med. 21: 623–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. [5]
    Carstensen, O.;Lauristen, J. &Rasmussen, K. (1995): The West-Jutland study on prevention of farm accidents, Phase 1: A Study of work specific factors in 257 hospital-treated agricultural injuries. J. Agric. Safety Health 1: 231–239Google Scholar
  6. [6]
    Vayrynen, S. (1984): Safety & Ergonomics in the maintenance of heavy forest machinery. Accid. Anal. & Prev. 16: 115–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. [7]
    Chari, P. S.;Kharshiing, W. &Balakrishnan, C. (1975): Wheat thresher hand injuries. Indian J. Med. Res. 63: 829–832Google Scholar
  8. [8]
    Datta, S.P. &Verma, P.S. (1969): A study of rural accidents in Pondicherry, South India. Indian J. Pub. Health XIII: 25–29Google Scholar
  9. [9]
    Mohan, D. &Patel, R. (1992): Design of safer agricultural equipment: Applications of ergonomics & epidemiology. Internat. J. Indus. Ergonom. 10: 301–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. [10]
    Gordon, J.E.;Gulati, P.V. &Wyon, J.B. (1962): Traumatic accidents in rural tropical regions: an epidemiological field study in Punjab, India. Am. J. Med. Sciences 243: 158–178Google Scholar
  11. [11]
    Doyle, Y. &Conroy, R. (1989): Childhood farm accidents: A continuing cause for concern. J. Soc. Occup. Med. 39: 35–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. [12]
    Larsson, T.J. (1990): Severe hand injuries among Swedish farmers. J. Occup. Accidents 12: 295–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. [13]
    Jansson, B.R. (1987): The yield of systems for continuous & periodic injury surveillance in emergency care with emphasis on farm-work-related accidents. Scand. J. Soc. Med. 15: 247–252Google Scholar
  14. [14]
    Miller, K. (1992): Causes of accidents with post-drivers & their remedies. Applied Ergonomics 23: 101–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. [15]
    Underwood, J.G. (1984). Pesticides & Health. The Insurance Technical Bureau, London, UKGoogle Scholar
  16. [16]
    Pratt, D.S.;Marvel, L.H.;Darrow, D.;Stallones, L.;May, J.J. &Jenkins, P. (1992): The dangers of dairy farming: The injury experience of 600 workers followed for two years. Am. J. Indus. Med. 21: 637–650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. [17]
    Lawrence, T.J. & Bean, T.L. (1992): Rewards and regulations: Motivating farmers to adopt ROPS. The American Society of Agricultural Engineers meeting, Nashville, Tennessee, 15–18 Dec. 1992Google Scholar
  18. [18]
    Rrvara, F.P. (1985): Fatal & non-fatal farm injuries to children & adolescents in the United States. Paediatrics 76: 567–573Google Scholar
  19. [19]
    Isaacs, L.K. &Bean, T.L. (1995): An overview of the Ohio migrant farmworker safety needs assessment. J. Agric. Safety & Health 1 261–272Google Scholar
  20. [20]
    Purschwitz, M.A. &Field, W.E. (1990). Scope and magnitude of injuries in the agricultural workplace. Am. J. Indus. Med. 18: 179–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. [21]
    Hoskin, A.F.;Miller, T.A.;Hanford, W.D. &Landes, S.R. (1988): Occupational injuries in agriculture: A 35-State survey. National Safety Council, Chicago, Illinois, USAGoogle Scholar
  22. [22]
    US Bureau of Labor Statistics (1996): a) Table R.64. Number of non-fatal occupational injuries & illnesses involving days away from work, 1993. b) Table 1. Non-fatal occupational injury & illness incidence rates per 100 full-time workers, 1995. c) National Census of fatal occupational injuries, 1995 Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor. 8 August 1996Google Scholar
  23. [23]
    Sutter, S.R. (1991): Farmworker injury & illness: statistical guides to prevention. California Agriculture 45:13–15Google Scholar
  24. [24]
    Whiting, W.B. (1975): Occupational illnesses & injuries of California agricultural workers. J. Occup. Med. 17: 177–181Google Scholar
  25. [25]
    California Division of Labor Statistics (1995): Table 4. Number & percent distribution of fatal occupational injuries by industry, California 1993–94. Census of Fatal Occupational InjuriesGoogle Scholar
  26. [26]
    Health & Safety Authority, Dublin, Ireland (1997): Health & Safety at Work (Ireland), Statistics. Reported accidentsGoogle Scholar
  27. [27]
    Lundqvist, P. &Gustafsson, B. (1992): Accidents & accident prevention in agriculture. A review of selected studies. Internat. J. Indus, Ergonom. 10: 311–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. [28]
    Myers, J.R. (1990): National surveillance of occupational fatalities in agriculture. Am. J. Indus. Med. 18: 163–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. [29]
    Skromme, A.B. (1990): A farm safety program sponsored by farmers. The American Society of Agricultural Engineers meeting, Chicago, Illinois, 18–21 Dec. 1990Google Scholar
  30. [30]
    US Bureau of Labor Statistics (1997): US Table 17, Number of Fatal Occupational Injuries by Industry, 1993. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Safety & Health StatisticsGoogle Scholar
  31. [31]
    Health & Safety Executive (1991): Agriculture: A students guide to legislation, guidance, films and forms 1991. Third edition: Health & Safety Executive, Library & Information Services, Sheffield, UK, March 1991Google Scholar
  32. [32]
    Health & Safety Executive (1997): Accidents in agriculture, hunting, forestry & fisheries. UK HSE Infoline, February 1997Google Scholar
  33. [33]
    Laitinen, H. & Vahapassi, A. (1992): Accidents at work. In Occupational Health in Developing Countries. Ed: Jeyeratnam, J. Oxford Medical Publications 368–391Google Scholar
  34. [34]
    Doyle, Y. &Conroy, R. (1989): The spectrum of farming accidents seen in Irish general practice: A one-year survey. Family practice 6: 38–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. [35]
    Meirelles, C.E. (1996): The country under study. The primary production sector and work safety (English translation). Protecão, March 1996, 64–69Google Scholar
  36. [36]
    Private communication (1997): Sugar Industry Agricultural Safety Statistics, 1996Google Scholar
  37. [37]
    Baltodano, J.M.A. &Tobar, S.M.A. (1995): Analisis de la accidentabilidad laboral para la toma de decisiones en la prevencion y control de los factores de riesgo en la produccion de banano en Geest Limited Costa Rica. Universidad, Latinoamericana de Ciencia Y Tecnologia, San José, Costa Rica, 25 de Agosto 1995Google Scholar
  38. [38]
    Private Communication (1997): Tea estate accident analyses, India 1994–1997Google Scholar
  39. [39]
    Commission of the European Communities Safety & Health Directorate (1983): Safety Training for Agriculture Workers. Part One: Statistical analysis of accidents in agriculture. Module commissioned from the Institut National de Promotion Superieure Agricole in Dijon by the commission of the European Communities Safety & Health DirectorateGoogle Scholar
  40. [40]
    Runyan, J.L. (1998): Injuries & fatalities on US farms. Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, January 1998Google Scholar
  41. [41]
    Sekimpi, D.K. (1992): Occupational health services for agricultural workers. In Occupational Health in Developing Countries, Ed: Jeyaratnam, J., Oxford Medical Publications 31–61Google Scholar
  42. [42]
    Private Communication (1998): Accident performance in CDC Industries 1995–7Google Scholar
  43. [43]
    Coghlan, J.D. (1981): Leptospirosis in man, British Isles, 1979–80. Brit. Med. J. 282: 2066Google Scholar
  44. [44]
    Leptospirosis Reference Laboratory & Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (PHLS) (1983): Leptospirosis in man, British Isles, 1982. Brit. Med. J. 287: 1365–1366Google Scholar
  45. [45]
    Yanagawa, R. (1985): Farmworkers at risk. World Health, July 1985Google Scholar
  46. [46]
    Barile, F.;Mastrolonardo, M.;Loconsole, F. &Rantuccio, F. (1993): Cutaneous sporotrichosis in the period 1978–1992 in the province of Bari Apulia, Southern Italy. Mycoses 36: 181–185Google Scholar
  47. [47]
    Casemore, D.P. (1990): Epidemiological aspects of human crytosporidiosis. Epidemiol. Infect. 104: 1–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. [48]
    de Haller, R., (1986): Respiratory symptoms and preventive aspects in farmers chronically exposed to mouldy hay. Am. J. Indus. Med. 10: 288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. [49]
    Donham, K.J.;Haglind, P.;Peterson, Y. &Rylander, R. (1986): Environmental & health studies in swine confinement buildings. Am. J. Indus. Med. 10: 289–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. [50]
    Rose, C. &King, T.E. (1992): Controversies in hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Am. Rev. Respir. Dis. 145: 1–2Google Scholar
  51. [51]
    Do Pico, G.A. (1992): Hazardous exposure and lung disease among farm workers. Clinics in Chest Medicine 13: 311–328Google Scholar
  52. [52]
    Malmberg, P.;Rask-Anderson, A.;Hoglund, S.;Kolmodin-Hedman, B. &Guernsey, J.R. (1988). Incidence of Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome in allergic alveolitis in Swedish farmers. Int. Arch. Allergy Appl. Immunol. 87: 47–54Google Scholar
  53. [53]
    Husman, K.;Terho, E.O.;Notkola, V. &Nuutinen, J. (1990): Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome among Finnish farmers. Am. J. Indus. Med. 17: 79–80Google Scholar
  54. [54]
    Bishu, R.R.;Chen, Y.;Cochran, D.J. &Riley, M.W. (1989): Back injuries in farming-a pilot investigation. In Advances in Industrial Ergonomics & Safety, Ed.Mital, A. Taylor & Francis, London & Philadelphia pp. 791–798Google Scholar
  55. [55]
    Conlan, T.M.;Miles, J.A. &Steinke, W.E. (1995): Static lower back stress analysis in citrus harvesting. Am. Soc. Agric. Eng., 38: 929–936Google Scholar
  56. [56]
    Thelin, A. (1990): Hip joint arthrosis: An occupational disorder among farmers. Am. J. Indus. Med. 18: 339–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. [57]
    Gustafsson, B.;Pinzke, S. &Isberg, P-E. (1994): Musculoskeletal symptoms in Swedish dairy farmers. Swedish J. Agric. Res. 24: 177–188Google Scholar
  58. [58]
    Hammer, W. (1991): Safe access to farm tractors & trailers. J. Agric. Engng. Res. 50: 219–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. [59]
    Axelsson, S-A. &Ponten, B. (1990): New ergonomic problems in mechanised logging operations. Int. J. Indus. Ergonom. 5: 267–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. [60]
    Vayrynen, S. &Kononen, U. (1991): Short & long-term effects of a training programme on work postures in rehabilitatees. A pilot study of loggers suffering from back troubles. Int. J. Indus. Ergonom. 7: 103–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. [61]
    Nag, P.K. &Dutt, P. (1980): Circulo-respiratory efficiency in some agriculture work. Appl. Ergonom. 11: 81–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. [62]
    Nag, P.K. &Pradhan, C.K. (1992): Ergonomics in the hoeing operation. Int. J. Indus. Ergonom 10: 341–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. [63]
    Hall, S.A. (1971): Heat stress in outdoor manual workers in East Africa. Ergonomics 14: 91–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. [64]
    Bovenzi, M. &Betta, A. (1994): Low-back disorders in agricultural tractor drivers exposed to whole-body vibration and postural stress. Appl. Ergonom. 25:231–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. [65]
    WHO (1962): Occupational health problems in agriculture. Fourth report of the joint ILO/WHO Committee on Occupational Health. World Health Organisation Technical Report No. 246. WHO Geneva 1962Google Scholar
  66. [66]
    Hespanhol, I. (1996): Health impacts of agricultural development. In: Sustainability of Irrigated Agriculture, Eds:Pereira, L.S. et al.. Kluwer Academic publishers, Netherlands. pp. 61–83Google Scholar
  67. [67]
    Uragoda, C.G. (1992): Occupational lung diseases-vegetable dusts. In Occupational Health in Developing Countries, Ed: Jeyeratnam, J., Oxford Medical Publications 304–313Google Scholar
  68. [68]
    Rainbird, G. &O’Neill, D. (1993): Work-related diseases in tropical agriculture. Silsoe Research Institute, Silsoe, UKGoogle Scholar
  69. [69]
    ILO (1995): Yearbook of Labour Statistics, 54th Issue. Chapter VIII, Occupational Injuries. International Labour Office, Geneva, pp. 839–942Google Scholar
  70. [70]
    ILO (1996): Wage Workers in Agriculture: Conditions of employment & work. International Labour Office, Geneva, pp. 73–77Google Scholar
  71. [71]
    HSE (1996): Pesticide Incidents Report 1995/96. Health & Safety Executive, UKGoogle Scholar
  72. [72]
    Ekstrom, G.;Hemming, H. &Palmborg, M. (1996): Swedish pesticide risk reduction 1981–1995: Food residues, health hazard & reported poisonings. Rev. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 147:119–136Google Scholar
  73. [73]
    Martin, S.K. (1994): Risk perceptions and management responses to risk in pastoral farming in New Zealand. Proc. N.Z. Soc. Animal Production 54: 363–368Google Scholar
  74. [74]
    Monk, A.S.;Morgan, D.D.V.;Morris, J. &Radley, R.W. (1986): The Cost of accidents in agriculture. J. Agric. Engng. Res. 35: 245–257Google Scholar
  75. [75]
    Kelsey, T.W. (1991): Fatal farm accidents in New York: Estimates of their costs. North-eastern J. Agric. Resources Econom. 20: 202–207Google Scholar
  76. [76]
    Tormoehlen, R.L. &Field, W.E. (1995): Projecting economic losses associated with farm-related permanent disabilities. J. Agric, Safety & Health 1: 27–36Google Scholar
  77. [77]
    Zhao, W.;Hetzel, G.H. &Woeste, F.E. (1992): Injury risk analysis as input to farm insurance ratings. Am. Soc. Agric. Eng. 35: 765–772Google Scholar
  78. [78]
    Zhao, W.;Hetzel, G.H. &Woeste, F.E. (1995): Defining farm safety research priorities by a cost risk approach. J. Agromed. 2: 7–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. [79]
    Sauerborn, R.;Ibrango, I.;Nougtara, A.;Borchert, M.;Hien, M.;Benzler, J.;Koob, E. &Diesfeld, HJ. (1995): The economic costs of illness for rural households in Burkina Faso. Trop. Med. Parasitol. 46: 54–60Google Scholar
  80. [80]
    Pimentel, D.;McLaughlin, L.;Zepp, A.;Lakitan, B.;Kraus, T.;Kleinman, P.;Vancini, F.;Roach, W.J.;Graap, E.;Keeton, W.S. &Seug, G. (1991): Environmental & economic impacts of reducing US agricultural pesticide use. In CRC Handbook of Pest Management in Agriculture, Ed:Pimentel, D., CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, pp 679–718Google Scholar
  81. [81]
    Pimentel, D.;Acquay, H.;Biltonen, M.;Rice, P.;Silva, M.;Nelson, J.;Lipner, V.;Giordano, S.;Horowitz, A. &D’Amore, M. (1992): Environmental & Economic costs of pesticide use. Bio Science 42: 750–760Google Scholar
  82. [82]
    Antle, J.M. &Capalbo, S.M. (1995): Measurement & evaluation of the impact of agricultural chemical use: A framework for analysis. In Impact of Pesticides on Farmer Health & the Rice Environment, Eds., Pingali & Roger, Kluwer Press, Boston, MA, pp. 23–57Google Scholar
  83. [83]
    Pingali, PL.;Marquez, C.B.;Paus, F.G. &Rola, A.C., (1995): The impact of pesticides on farmer health: A medical & economic analysis in the Philippines. In Impact of Pesticides on Farmer Health & the Rice Environment, Eds: Pingali & Roger, Kluwer Press, Boston, MA, pp. 344–360Google Scholar
  84. [84]
    Antle, J.M., &Pingali, P.L. (1994): Pesticides, productivity & farmer health: A Philippine case study. Amer. J. Agr. Econ. 76: 418–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. [85]
    Naylor, R. (1994): Herbicide use in Asian rice production. World Development 22: 55–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. [86]
    Global Crop Protection Federation (1998): List of Publications, February 1998Google Scholar
  87. [87]
    Norton, S. (1996): Toxic Effect of Plants. In Casarett & Doull’s Toxicology. The Basic Science of Poisons, Fifth Edition. Ed:Klaassen, C.D, McGraw-Hill, New York pp. 841–853Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ecomed Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melville H. Litchfield
    • 1
  1. 1.Melrose ConsultancyArundelUK

Personalised recommendations