Poor working conditions for hired farm workers have been a persistent problem in the U.S., but they haven't received sufficient attention, according to a recent NIOSH report. About 2.5 million people perform hired agricultural work in the U.S. The ag industry has the second-highest rate of occupational fatalities in the country, according to government data.

Now a new NIOSH publication, "New Directions in the Surveillance of Hired Farm Worker Health and Occupational Safety," has identified ten occupational health priorities and ranked them in order of their importance:

  • workplace ergonomic conditions and musculoskeletal injuries
  • pesticides
  • traumatic injuries
  • respiratory diseases
  • water quality
  • infectious diseases
  • cancer
  • eye conditions
  • mental health

The report also lists seven research priorities:

  • pesticides,
  • ergonomic and musculoskeletal conditions,
  • injuries,
  • effect of protective measures,
  • cancer,
  • identification of control or comparison populations,
  • mental health.

The report can be accessed at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/hfw-index.html