Epidemiology of Electrocution in Agricultural Workers

Data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for 1992 to 1999 show a total of 2,525 occupational electrocution deaths among all occupations, yielding a mortality rate of 0.23 deaths/ deaths/105 worker-years. With respect to ethnicity, the highest rate was seen among Hispanics (0.30 deaths/105 worker-years), an important observation because a majority of hired workers in agriculture are Hispanic. Of all occupational electrocution deaths, 320 (12.7%) occurred in agricul tural, forestry, and fishing occupations. The number of such deaths in agricultural, forestry, and fishing occupations was exceeded only by those in the construction trades (988 deaths) and transportation and material moving occupations (517 deaths). When these deaths are expressed as mortality rates, the rate for agriculture, forestry, and fishing occupations (1.16 deaths/105 worker-years) is exceeded only by extractive (mining) occupations (2.38 deaths/105 worker-years) and construction trades (2.10 deaths/105 worker-years) (7,8).

Within agriculture, the majority of deaths occurred among farm workers (92 deaths, 1.24 deaths/105 worker-years) and groundskeepers and gardeners (91 deaths, 1.50 deaths/105 worker-years). While only 11 deaths occurred among supervisors of farm workers, this group demonstrated the highest mortality rate within agriculture (3.41 deaths/105 worker-years) (7,8).

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