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Utilizing Workers' Compensation Claims to Characterize Ergonomically Related Injuries in California Farms


California serves as one of leading states in agricultural production in the entire country; it is attributed with planting, cultivating, and harvesting over 400 commodities worth billions of dollars in monetary value. The jobs associated in this industry pose a variety of risks in terms of injuries due to the laborious nature of the tasks performed in this field. Some of the most common injuries are a result of overexertion over prolonged periods. In order to better understand and identify potential ergonomic interventions to prevent these injuries, analysis of injury data is needed to pinpoint the factors that lead to the most prevalent and severe injuries. Utilizing over 6,000 workers’ compensation claims reported from 2005 – 2020 by agricultural farming businesses in California, prevalence of injuries, severity, and quantitative trends were characterized from the available data to focus on ergonomically related injuries due to factors such as repetitive motion, lifting, pushing/pulling, etc. Employee age, gender, tenure, nature of injury, injured part of body, and crop type were all analyzed in relation to the total incurred costs for reported claims. Descriptive statistics, chi-square tests, standardized residuals, contingency tables, and regression-modelling techniques were all used to analyze relationships between variables, characterize trends, and express the impact that the most significant of variables had on the total incurred costs. Results indicate that age, tenure, nature of injury and part of body were significantly related to monetary categories for incurred costs. Regression coefficients for age, gender, and part of body injured displayed significant relationships in impacting the log transformation of the total incurred costs for injuries. The results of this study will help in the efforts for better research, design, and implementation of risk reduction procedures and interventions in agriculture.

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