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Large animal farms are growing in size, increasing work task specialization. Workers not only face inherent risks in the agricultural workplace, but are also introduced to significant dangers in these operations. Injuries in dairy and pork farms are common and are increasingly managed by primary care physicians. Yet, clinicians are often unfamiliar with the physical demands of farming and have little training and few resources to manage the safe return to work of injured workers. This project’s purpose was to develop a computer application designed for clinicians to guide safe return to work planning for injured workers in the dairy and pork industries.

Why is this important?

In the U.S., agriculture consistently ranks among the four deadliest jobs, along with mining, transportation and construction. According to the National Safety Council’s most recent report (2008), agriculture had the highest rate of worker deaths at 29.2/100,000 workers compared to an average across all jobs of 3.5 deaths/100,000 workers. And agricultural workers suffered 90,000 disabling injuries that same year. Nearly all these deaths and injuries are preventable. One of the main differences between agriculture and other industries is the presence of children in the worksite. Farming is typically a family business, where children are raised on the farm and participate in farming activities beginning at young ages. Annually, more than 100 children are killed and 23,000 seriously injured in farm-related events in the United States.