September 23, 2014

Farming among the country’s deadliest jobs

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Firefighters practice placing a rescue tube during grain bin rescue training at the Danville Bunge facility on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.

Don McMasters/for The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Firefighters practice placing a rescue tube during grain bin rescue training at the Danville Bunge facility on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.

By Robert Holly/CU-CitizenAccess.org — Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers ranked in the top 10 for highest fatality rates by occupation last year.

Additionally, the “agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting” industry category was – again – the country’s deadliest industry, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics findings released on Monday. The findings show that the broad agriculture industry category was nearly seven times deadlier than the typical job.

Those results mirror findings from 2012, which also ranked the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry as the deadliest industry.

“Workers are exposed to a number of high injury risk hazards, including farm machinery that have a lot of exposed moving hazardous parts,” said Bob Aherin, an agriculture safety expert at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The overall fatal work injury rate for U.S. workers in 2013 was 3.2 deaths for every 100,000 full-time workers. The agriculture industry recorded a fatal work injury rate of 22.2 deaths for every 100,000 full-time workers in 2013.

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism took an in-depth look into agricultural fatalities and injuries in the series: “Matter of Seconds: Injury and death on America’s farms.” The series features pieces on farm-safety regulation, revolutionary safety technology and grain-bin hazards.

“Farming is still predominately family farms in the U.S.,” Aherin said. “Farming is one of the few occupations in this country where families live in the middle of their work environment.”

Loggers, fishermen, aircraft pilots, roofers, garbage collectors, mining operators and truck drivers reported the highest fatality rates when broken down by occupation.

At a rate of 21.8 deaths for every 100,000 full-time workers, farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers had the eighth-highest fatality rate by occupation last year.

The educational and health services category reported the lowest fatal occupational injury rate in 2013.

The financial activities category and the information category also recorded very low fatal occupational injury rates last year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics derives its data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Findings from the census are preliminary at this point.