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Keywords:

  • migrant;
  • farmworker;
  • occupational;
  • musculoskeletal straining/spraining event;
  • surveillance;
  • agriculture;
  • surveillance methods

Abstract

Background

Northeast farmworkers are a small, widely dispersed, and isolated population. Little is known about their occupational injury and illness risk.

Methods

Researchers conducted chart reviews in migrant health centers across the Northeast, and calculated incidence-density for agricultural morbidity based on a new method for estimating total worker hours at risk, and adjusting for cases seen at other sources of care.

Results

An estimated annual average of 1,260 cases translated to an incidence of 30.27 per 10,000 worker weeks, (12.7 per 100 FTEs). Straining/spraining events (56% cases) was the most common occurrence (16.8 per 10,000 worker weeks), and lifting (21.5% cases) was the leading contributing factor. Incidence by crop category ranged from 12.95 (ground crop) to 29.69 (bush crop) per 10,000 weeks. Only 2.8% filed for Workers' Compensation.

Conclusion

The predominance of straining/spraining events affecting the back, and their association with lifting suggests that Northeastern farmworker occupational health programs should focus on ergonomics, and specifically on safe lifting. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:845–855, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.