Department of Public Health Sciences

International issues in agricultural health and safety

Schenker, M.B.

Sacramento Medicine. 1996. May:11-12.

Agriculture ranks with mining as one of the most hazardous occupations, but, unlike mining and other major industries, it has produced no significant change in occupational fatality rates for several decades.' Occupational health and preventive medicine have generally failed, until recently, to focus on the health and safety hazards in agriculture. Recent national efforts have begun to address this problem although the amount of money spent on agricultural health remains small compared to other industries.' While the number of farms in the United States and other developed countries has been decreasing, this is not the case in developing countries. While the industrializing countries of the world, who now constitute more than 70 percent of the world's population, have shown rapid urbanization and expansion of industrial activity, agriculture continues to be the major economic sector with 50-90 percent of the population in most industrializing countries dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Agriculture is the most important and prevalent occupation worldwide - and the most dangerous. Attention to the health status of workers internationally should focus on the prevention of these diseases.

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