NIOSH logo and tagline

Teens Face Serious Risk of Job-Related Death in Agricultural Operations

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749
September 22, 2000

Young people under 20 face a serious risk of death from work-related injuries in agricultural operations, particularly when engaged in crop production activities and working with tractors and other vehicles and industrial equipment, according to findings by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Analyzing five years of data, NIOSH found that 12.2 occupational fatalities occurred for every 100,000 youths working in agriculture, more than twice the rate for fatal occupational injuries overall in the U.S. for a comparable period (5.1 fatalities per every 100,000 workers). The youth agricultural fatalities most often involved head injuries, most often occurred from May to August, and occurred more often in the Midwest than in any other section of the U.S.

“During National Farm Safety Week, these data highlight the importance of protecting young people in agricultural operations from death and serious injury,” said NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H. “The more we know through new research findings, the greater our ability to anticipate where hazards are most likely to occur and to prevent them.”

The NIOSH findings, which originally were published in the Journal of Agromedicine, are consistent with results from earlier research showing that youths who work and live on farms are at risk for injury and death. Each year, approximately 33,000 young people under 20 are seriously injured on farms, and more than 100 are killed. The findings build on previous research by providing new data on age-specific fatality rates and identifying crop production as having both high numbers and high rates of fatalities, among other advancements The findings include these:

  • Some 188 young people under 20 died from work-related injuries in agriculture from 1992 to 1996. Some 52 percent of the fatalities occurred in crop production, 31 percent in livestock production, and 17 percent in agricultural services.
  • Half the fatalities involved transportation incidents, including collisions, incidents involving loss of control of vehicle or equipment, and falls from moving vehicles. Tractors were the major cause of vehicle-related fatalities, accounting for 23 percent of all deaths.
  • Incidence of fatalities increased by age for young people under 20, with the highest proportion occurring among 18- to 19-year olds (30 percent of the total) and the next highest among 16- to 17-year olds (25 percent).
  • Fatalities more often occurred among young people working for wages (51 percent) than among young people in family agriculture operations (44 percent).
  • Some 46 percent of fatalities occurred in the Midwest, followed by 22 percent in the South as the region with the next highest prevalence.

NIOSH works extensively with a broad coalition of partners in the safety, health, and agricultural communities to prevent injury and death among young people in agriculture. Additional information on these activities and other NIOSH research and recommendations on agricultural safety and health is available on the World Wide Web at Information also is available from NIOSH partner organizations:

The National Children=s center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, funded by NIOSH and the Maternal Child Health Bureau (;

National Safety Council, (; and

Farm Safety 4 Just Kids, (

For further information on other NIOSH research for preventing occupational injuries and illnesses, call toll-free 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674) .