Objectives: To investigate the incidence, nature and determinants of non-fatal occupational injuries in British agriculture.
Methods: As part of a postal survey, data on lifetime histories of work in agriculture and occupational accidents were obtained from men born between 1933 and 1977 and residing in three rural areas of England and Wales. Incidence rates for different categories of accident were compared with those derived from statutory reporting. Associations with risk factors were explored by Poisson regression, and summarised by incidence rate ratios (IRRs).
Results: Of the 10 765 responders (response rate = 31%), 3238 (30%) reported at least one occupational accident at the ages of 14–64 years, leading to absence from work for ⩾3 days, including 1492 accidents that could be linked to a specific job listed in the history of agricultural work. The reported incidence of injuries in agriculture was markedly higher than that derived from statutory reporting, particularly for self-employed farmers. During 1996–2003, the highest rates of agricultural accidents were from handling, lifting or carrying (4.9/1000 person-years), falls from a height (4.6/1000 person-years) and injury by animals (3.4/1000 person-years). After adjustment for calendar period and age, the risk of accidents was elevated in men who had only recently entered agricultural work (IRR 3.7, 95% CI 2.7 to 5.1 for men who had worked in agriculture for up to 1 year relative to those who had entered the industry >25 years earlier), and in those who carried out forestry (IRR 1.7, 95% CI 1.5 to 1.9).
Conclusion: Our findings confirm the substantial underascertainment of serious accidental injuries in agriculture through statutory reporting, particularly for the self-employed. The risk of accidents is highest in new recruits to the industry and in those undertaking forestry, and these groups should be a target for further preventive action.
- IRR, incidence rate ratio
- LFS, Labour Force Survey
- RIDDOR, Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations
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