Online Program

Estimating occupational illness, injury, and mortality in food production: A farm-to-table analysis

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kira L. S. Newman, Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Juan Leon, PhD, MPH, Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Lee S. Newman, MD, MA, Colorado School of Public Health- Mountain and Plains Education and Research Center, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO
Introduction: Many industries related to food production, including agriculture, manufacturing, and food preparation have high occupational morbidity rates. The purpose of our research is to provide an aggregate estimate of the burden of occupational illness, injury, and death related to each stage of food production in the US. Methods: We analyzed US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from 2011 on occupational morbidity and mortality for industries involved in the non-consumer stages of the farm-to-table model (production; processing; distribution and storage; retail and preparation). To estimate the rates of injuries, illnesses, and deaths by stage, we scaled morbidity and mortality rates by 2011 BLS employment estimates. To estimate food category-specific risks, we developed farm-to-table models for meat and non-meat foods. Results: The annual injury rate for non-restaurant food system jobs was significantly higher than the national average occupational injury rate (5.3 cases/100 workers v. 3.8 cases/100 workers; p<0.0001). Furthermore, the meat-producing occupational injury rate was significantly higher than the non-meat-producing rate (6.3 cases/100 workers v. 5.2 cases/100 workers; p=0.009). However, the occupational mortality rate for food system workers was not significantly higher than the national average occupational mortality rate (0.105 deaths/1000 workers v. 0.036 deaths/1000 workers; p=0.478). Discussion: These findings will aid public health practitioners develop interventions to mitigate the occupational impact of food production on human capital by highlighting the multiple worker hazards throughout the farm to table continuum. Results from our study suggest that engineering interventions may reduce occupational injury in food production industries.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify workplace hazards in the non-consumer stages of food production; Compare occupational morbidity and mortality for industries throughout the farm-to-table continuum; Explain the importance of this study on developing future interventions.

Keyword(s): Injury Prevention, Occupational Injury and Death

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an MD/PhD candidate currently conducting my dissertation research in epidemiology on norovirus and foodborne illness. Among my scientific interests has been the development of modeling strategies to assess risk and estimate burden of disease related to food production and foodborne illness. I am also interested in using the farm-to-table model as a heuristic to guide research in injury prevention for food industry workers.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.