Childhood Agricultural Injuries in the U.S.

Source: Sergei Nivens - 123RF

According to the National Children’s Center, in 2016, there were approximately 2.06 million farms in the United States.

About 893,000 youth lived on farms in 2014 and more than half (51%) worked on their farm, more than 265,600 non-resident youth were hired in agriculture in 2014, and approximately 23,883,000 youth visited farms in 2014.

Every three days, a child dies in an agriculture-related incident.

Of the leading sources of fatalities among all youth:

  • 25% involved machinery,
  • 17% involved motor vehicles (includes ATVs), and
  • 16% were drownings.

For working youth, tractors were the leading source of fatalities, followed by ATVs.

According to NIOSH, the problem of children being injured while living, working, or visiting agricultural work environments (primarily farms), has been recognized for several decades. Although many individuals and groups have crusaded for the prevention of childhood agricultural injuries over the years, there was not a national, coordinated effort.

This changed in 1991 when the Surgeon General’s Conference on Agricultural Safety and Health was held in Des Moines, Iowa. During this conference, a session titled Intervention: Safe Behaviors Among Adults and Children highlighted the risks faced by individuals involved with production agriculture.

In 1992 a Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention symposium was held in Marshfield, Wisconsin as a follow-up to the Surgeon General’s conference. The symposium was sponsored by the National Farm Medicine Center, a component of the Marshfield Medical Research and Education Foundation, which sought to develop consensus on relevant research, education, policy, and other interventions aimed at the reduction of agricultural injuries among children.

The symposium resulted in the formation of the National Committee for Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention (NCCAIP). Over a 16-month period, members of the committee finalized a National Action Plan that was released in 1996 for addressing the childhood agricultural injury problem.

The National Action Plan recommends leadership, surveillance, research, education, and public policy.

The plan specifically recommends that NIOSH serve as the lead federal agency in preventing childhood agricultural injury.

The Childhood Agricultural Safety Network (CASN) is a coalition of organizations that work together to help keep children safe on the farm. These organizations represent the agricultural community, child injury prevention, minority-serving associations, and related industry organizations.