Farmwork-related injury among farmers 50 years of age and older in Kentucky and South Carolina: a cohort study, 2002-2005.
Farmers in the U.S. are becoming more diverse; the average age of the farmer is increasing, as is the number of women and minority farm operators. There is limited research on injury risk factors in these special populations of farmers. It is especially important to study the risk factors for injury in these growing and at-risk groups. A longitudinal survey was conducted of farmers (n = 1,394) age 50 and older who resided in Kentucky and South Carolina. The questionnaire was administered by telephone and mail surveys four times between 2002 and 2005 to the fixed cohort of farmers, obtained by convenience sample. Approximately half of the cohort was female, and the majority of the cohort worked less than 40 hours per week. This cohort reported a crude, non-fatal injury rate of 9.3 injured farmers per 100 per year. Farmers reporting chronic bronchitis/emphysema (estimated odds ratio [EOR] = 1.57), back problems (EOR = 1.37), arthritis (EOR = 1.31), 3 to 4 restless nights in the past week (EOR = 2.02), or 5 to 7 restless nights in the past week (EOR = 1.82) were at significantly higher odds of sustaining a farmwork-related injury as calculated by the generalized estimating equations (GEE) regression method Farmers operating equipment on highways (EOR = 1.51) or climbing higher than eight feet (EOR = 1.69) were at significantly higher odds of sustaining a farmwork-related injury, and females were at higher risk of injury when performing animal-related tasks (EOR = 3.00) or crop-related tasks (EOR = 2.21). Identified factors associated with farmwork-related injury should better inform agricultural health policies and guidelines for older farmers, such as policies governing the allowable number of hours worked per week and rest breaks, guidelines that advise appropriate types of farm tasks, and ergonomic engineering advances on farming equipment.