GRAPHIC: Number of agricultural fatalities has decreased, but industry remains dangerous

The number of fatal injuries to agricultural workers was close to a 10-year low in 2021, according to federal data.

by Sky Chadde, Investigate Midwest

September 21, 2023 – Why you can trust Investigate Midwest

“Fatalities are the “tip of the injury iceberg” – with far more nonfatal injuries affecting farmers and farm families,” the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health reports. The center, based at the University of Iowa the College of Public Health, covers nine Midwest states. Credit: Sarah Hadley/IowaWatch file photo

In 2021, the agriculture industry saw 133 deaths, one of the lowest totals over the previous decade, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

But the industry remains one of the most dangerous in America. Across all industries, there were about 3.6 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2021. For agriculture, the rate was 20, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, an agency housed within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the 133 deaths in 2021, about a fifth were related to motor vehicles away from public roads — generally, these were farmworkers being transported to or from job sites in rural areas. The Biden administration recently proposed a rule requiring vehicles taking farmworkers to and from work to have seat belts.

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