Farmers Have One of World's Most Dangerous Jobs

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- While there's no doubt that being a cop or firefighter is a dangerous job, being a farmer is even riskier. The rate of fatal occupational injuries for farmers and ranchers is 38.5 per 100,000 full-time workers, versus 4.4 for firefighters, and 13.1 for police and sheriff's patrol officers, according to U.S. Labor Department data for 2009, the most recent available.

"It seems counter-intuitive because you hear about violent accidents; you probably hear less about people dying when tractors roll over on them," said Jim Rice, an economist at the Labor Department. "For those who do work on farms, it's still a dangerous occupation."

The rate of fatal injuries for aircraft pilots and flight engineers is 57.1, and for fishers and related fishing workers it's 200. Among civilian workers -- the military, volunteers and those under 16 are excluded -- the fatality rate is an average of 3.3.

Other workers face higher-than-average rates of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work. For instance, state psychiatric aides have an injury and illness rate that is more than twice the rate for local police and sheriff's patrol officers. Other jobs with surprisingly high incidence rates: flight attendants, housekeeping workers and bus drivers.

Overall, the average incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses, requiring days away from work, was 117 per 10,000 full-time workers in 2009. You'd expect some occupations to have high rates, such as police and sheriff's patrol officers, who have a rate of 676, and firefighters, with a rate of 512. But can you guess an occupation with a higher rate than either cops or fire fighters? Try local government transit and intercity bus drivers. Their rate is 892.

"Bus drivers are exposed to a lot of force and vibrations when they are driving," said Karen Jacobs, clinical professor at Boston University's College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College and former president of the American Occupational Therapy Association. …