Kentucky Farm Family Health and Hazard Surveillance Project
Of approximately 85,000 farms in Kentucky, almost 90% are operated by individuals or family corporations. Family farms feed and clothe the United States and much of the world as well. At the same time, however, the productivity and diversity of America’s family farms mean that health and safety hazards in agriculture affect men, women, and children of all ages. Older farmers and children are especially vulnerable populations: More than half of America’s 1.9 million farms are operated by persons over age 55 (Amshoff, Reed 2005). An estimated 1.08 million youth under age 20 resided on farms in 2001, with approximately 593,000 of these youth performing farm work. In addition to youth who live on farms, more than 400,000 youth were hired to work on U.S. farms in 2001 (NIOSH, 2006).
This study included 8,271 farms in 60 of Kentucky's 120 counties. The cooperation of the farming community was outstanding. More than 4,000 telephone interviews were conducted with farm family members, and 138 farming operations were visited to assess health and safety hazards. Findings from the surveillance project were widely published and include the following:
- One in nine farmers aged 55 years and older has been involved in a tractor roll-over.
- Pesticides, particularly herbicides, may be associated with an increased risk for skin cancer among older farmers.
- Vision and hearing impairment may increase a farmer's risk of injury while performing farm work.
- Falls, especially when getting on or off farm equipment and when taking down tobacco in the barn, are a primary cause of injury among older farmers
- Only 11 percent of the farm women surveyed in the Kentucky Farm Family Health and Hazard Surveillance Project had completed first aid and CPR training.
- Children are an important part of farm work in Kentucky. Children are especially vulnerable to injury on the farm: One of every five injuries to Kentucky farm children is a result of doing farm work or chores. Of these injuries, 72% require medical attention.
For more information or contact the Principal Investigator: Steven R. Browning, PhD Assistant Professor of Epidemiology University of Kentucky College of Public Health Room 209-B, 115 Washington Street Lexington, KY 40536-0003