Agriculture has been compared with the most-hazardous occupations in the United Sates, according to statistics compiled by the US Bureau of Labor. In a report released recently by the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education, 2011 figures show farming and ranching had 25.3 deaths per 100,000 workers. Considering work-related deaths in 2011, per 100,000 workers, the three most hazardous are: fishermen with 121.2 deaths out of 100,000; Loggers, persons working in the logging industry, were second with 102.4; and pilots were third with 57. For comparison, other hazardous jobs are: police officers, 19.6; construction workers, 15.7; firefighters, 2.5; cashiers, office administrators, 0.6 and business and finance staff, 0.5.
According to the report, the number of fishermen who die on the job has gone down nearly half since 2009. But fishing is still the deadliest job in the United States. Loggers who die on the job are often hit by a falling tree or killed by a machine. Most pilots who die on the job are flying propeller-driven planes, according to Stephen Pegula of the Bureau of Labor. So the typical pilot killed in the line of duty is someone flying a crop duster, not a commercial jet.
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Farmers and ranchers are most often killed in accidents involving tractors and other vehicles. Firefighters are less likely to die on the job than the average U.S. worker whose death average is 3.5 in 100,000. Cashiers rarely die from job-related causes. But when they do, it is almost always due to homicide. Business and finance staff are among the least likely to die on the job.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing (AFF) workers are at high risk for work-related death. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health funds nine regional Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education and Prevention and one national center to address children's farm safety. This staff is the only substantive federal effort designed to ensure safe working conditions for workers in the most dangerous jobs.
Nearly 78 percent of AFF employers have fewer than 10 workers and most rely on family members, part-time or contract labor. Thus, many AFF workers are excluded from labor protections, including many of those enforced by OSHA.
TALKIN' COTTON is produced by NTOK Cotton, a cotton industry partnership which supports and encourages increased cotton production in the Rolling Plains of North Texas, Oklahoma and Texas. For more information on the cotton scene, see ntokcotton.org and okiecotton.org. For questions or comments on Talkin' Cotton, contact [email protected].