Posted by: Chelsea Hampton | April 10, 2013

Agricultural Health and Safety


While this may be an overview for some, the agricultural sector remains one of the most hazardous industries and agricultural health and safety are crucial themes for discussion. Read on for information about some of the health risks that agricultural workers frequently encounter, steps to prevent injury and illness, and additional resources on these topics. 

Common Health Risks:

– Excessive noise exposure from machinery, which can lead to significant hearing impairment.

– Frequent sun exposure, which can increase risk for developing skin cancer.

– Exposure to toxic gases, dust, pesticides, and other chemicals which can affect health immediately or over time.

– Physically demanding work which can lead to injury and/or arthritic conditions.  

– Stress accumulating from myriad factors such as long work hours, environmental impacts on crops, health factors, and other issues.      

There are many things individuals working in agriculture can do to minimize risk and help prevent illness and injury! Much of this involves having a proactive approach and prioritizing health and safety in the work environment as much as possible. Below are some things that farm and ranch workers can do to help reduce risk of injury and illness. 

Implement PPE!

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn when using tools, operating machinery/equipment, and when handling chemicals. Examples of personal protective equipment include eye protection and face shields, ear plugs, gloves, sunscreen, dust masks and respirators, and other protective clothing. PPE should fit properly and not limit mobility.  

Adequate Ventilation

When working around livestock, chemicals, and manure spaces, make sure areas are well ventilated. Use respiratory protection when necessary, and make sure equipment fits properly and is in good condition. 

Prioritize Self Care 

With farming and ranching, it can be easy to forget one’s own needs and invariably put work first. Self care is extremely important though, and can actually help with work productivity and safety.  Things like adequate sleep, healthy eating habits, regular exercise, social support, and staying up-to-date on routine health check-ups are all important components to overall health and wellness.

Below are some additional resources on health risks, personal protective equipment, and safety tips for agricultural workers.

National Safety Council. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Wyoming AgrAbility. Ranching and Farming with Arthritis. 

Wyoming AgrAbility. Tips for Ranching and Farming with Back Pain and Injury.

Bean, T.L., Nolan, J.A. (2008). Recognize and Manage the Stress of Farm Life. Ohio State University Extension. Agriculture and Natural Resources. 

National AgrAbility Project.    


Information obtained and adapted from the following sources:

– OSHA Fact Sheet: Farm Safety. (2005).

– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Workplace Safety & Health Topics: Agriculture   


This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.


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