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Spraying crops. Photos from the Smathers Archives.

Agriculture and Occupational Health

While scouring the produce aisles at the grocery store, a shopper ponders questions. Are these tomatoes bright enough to make a nice garnish? Are those berries ripe? How do the featured apples taste compared to my old favorites? Will my picky guest reject the asparagus-heavy recipe I’ve been wanting to try out?

The people who facilitate the movement of these food products from farms to markets and the processes they use often remain behind the scenes. Unfortunately, this means that the issues these workers face can also stay unseen.

Harvesting citrus.

Agriculture is a crucial industry, but it poses many dangers. Workers may face exposure to mechanical, biological, and chemical hazards, bad weather, heat-related illness, unfavorable socioeconomic conditions, and pandemic-related risks. A recent Ask IFAS publication, Agricultural Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Occupational Health and Safety in the Southeastern US Coastal States, highlights barriers to occupational health and safety and identifies factors that can offset those barriers. The publication includes specific recommendations to promote better working conditions for agricultural workers.

To learn more about agricultural safety, just Ask IFAS.