Researchers at the university counted 74,932 incidents of illness and injuries in crop production in 2011, compared to only 19,700 reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Peggy Lowe reports for NPR. The study also counted 68,504 injuries in livestock work in 2011, while the government reported only 12,300 injuries. Researchers also found that the National Agricultural Workers Survey and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages reported lower numbers than the study counted.
Lead researcher Paul Leigh said government numbers were lower because they exclude small, family-owned operations. "The other two problems in under-counting are negligence by employers who fail to send in the reports and the large number of undocumented ag workers," Lowe reports. "One recent government survey found that about half of the hired workers employed in U.S. crop agriculture were undocumented, with the overwhelming majority of these workers coming from Mexico."
Government numbers also failed to include "estimates for job-related cancers, chronic pulmonary disease or circulatory diseases," Lowe writes. "Other conditions that weren't counted are asthma from grain dust or neurological problems from long-term exposure to pesticides and chemicals because they won't be diagnosed for 10 or 20 years," Leigh said. (Read more)