This report reviews existing information on baseline levels of ill health in agriculture. Information on ill health in the industry was identified using a wide ranging search strategy, including searches of online bibliographical databases, web search engines and reports from expert committees and researchers in the area of agriculture and health. Papers identified were then subject to critical review.
Overall, the review showed that there is very little current information available on the prevalence or incidence of occupational ill health in the agriculture industry. Incidence data are available only for zoonoses and skin disease, with some prevalence data available primarily for musculo-skeletal and respiratory conditions. Mortality data and cancer data are invariably reported as proportional increases rather than as death or incidence rates, because of a lack of baseline population data.
Information gaps could be filled by expansion of existing recording schemes in agricultural areas, by further analysis of existing mortality data or by new studies of specific high risk groups (for example, forestry workers), with a view to assessing the baseline frequency, and measuring the success of interventions over a period.
This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.
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