OSHA: Agriculture industry records highest fatality rate of any sector

According to statistics from the US Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agriculture sector led all industries in 2012 with a fatality rate of 21.2 per 100,000 full-time workers. The sector accounted for 475 deaths in 2012 and 48,300 injuries in 2011, the most recent years for which each statistic is available.

The 2012 fatality numbers actually represent an improvement on 2011’s, when 570 agricultural workers died, and the industry’s fatality rate was 24.9 deaths per 100,000 workers. Record numbers of deaths and injuries in 2010 led OSHA to develop a Local Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities focusing on the grain industry’s six major hazards: engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, “struck by,” combustible dust explosions and electrocution hazards.

 OSHA says agricultural workers are at high risk for nonfatal injuries, work-related lung diseases, heat exposure, noise-induced hearing loss, skin diseases and certain cancers associated with chemical use and prolonged sun exposure.

In 2010, at least 26 workers were killed in grain engulfments, the highest number on record. OSHA has published resources on grain engulfment at www.osha.gov/SLTC/grainhandling/index.html. More information is available at www.grainsafety.org.