Author(s): Villarejo D, Baron SL, Villarejo D, Baron SL
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Abstract The U.S. hired farm work force presently is two-thirds foreign-born: mostly young Mexican men with low educational attainment who neither read nor write English. Sixty percent earn so little that they and their families live in poverty. Four of ten migrate to find work, 33\% are not authorized to work in the U.S., and 25\% work for a labor market intermediary, usually a labor contractor. Few hired farm workers have health insurance of any kind and, despite low incomes, relatively few seek or receive government benefits. Government regulation of the workplace exempts agricultural employers from numerous provisions that apply to other industries; for example, agriculture is exempt from portions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, allowing children as young as age 12 to work in the fields, and employers with 10 or fewer employees are exempt from OSHA regulation. Only 12 states require farm employers to carry workers' compensation insurance. While hired farm workers face significant safety and health risks, there are major gaps in existing research covering this occupational group. An ad hoc task force convened by NIOSH developed a prioritized agenda for occupational safety research in this population: musculoskeletal disorders, pesticide-related conditions, traumatic injuries, respiratory conditions, dermatitis, infectious diseases, cancer, eye conditions, and mental health.
This article was published in Occup Med
and referenced in Journal of Ergonomics