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Global Occupational Health$
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Tee L. Guidotti

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195380002

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195380002.001.0001

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Agriculture and Rural Development

Agriculture and Rural Development

(p.415) 21 Agriculture and Rural Development
Global Occupational Health

Jyrki Liesivuori

Tee L. Guidotti

Oxford University Press

Agricultural workers usually live in rural areas, sometimes isolated and remote from health care. They are required to perform many jobs as they are needed and carry out much of their work outdoors. Agricultural workers work very hard and at a very rapid pace at certain times of the year, a pattern that often leads to injuries. Despite these hazards, however, farmers in industrialized countries usually live longer and have fewer health problems than urban residents. This does not apply in developing countries, where the other problems of rural life and isolation from health care make life more difficult for agricultural workers. Traumatic injuries are the most common occupational health problem in agriculture. Respiratory diseases are relatively common in agriculture, due to inhaled agents. Chemical hazards reflect modern farming practices. Pesticides range from very safe to highly toxic to humans, depending on the specific used. Hydrogen sulfide, a very toxic gas, is formed in manure pits and where organic material decomposes. Ammonia vapor, from fertilizer or released from the nitrogen-rich bird manure in poultry sheds, is very irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract. A highly toxic gas, “nitrogen dioxide”, forms over time when some crops are put up in silos. Many biological hazards are found in agriculture, particularly zoonoses, transmitted from animals. Physical hazards are common in agriculture, including noise, ergonomic hazards, heat stress, and ultraviolet radiation from working outdoors. Agricultural work can be very stressful. The farmer or worker has little control over the pacing of the work.

Keywords:   agriculture, injury, respiratory diseases, pesticides, chemical hazards, biological hazards, physical hazards, stress, occupational health

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