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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Workplace Health-and-Safety Violations in Agriculture: Epidemiology and Implications for Education and Enforcement Policy

  • Author(s): McCurdy, Stephen A.
  • Villarejo, Don
  • Stoecklin, Maria
  • et al.

Agriculture is one of the most important industries in California, enjoying over $22 billion in farm cash receipts annually. In addition to economic benefits, national and state data show that agriculture is on of the most dangerous industries with respect to occupational illnesses and injuries. Because Latino and Latina workers provide the majority of production in the industry, they are uniquely increased risk for occupational injury and illness.

The fragmentation of regulatory activities causes inefficiency and confusion on the part of employers, employees, and regulators. In particular, lack of information sharing between agencies leads to ineffective enforcement and educational efforts. Consequently, a pilot program was begun in 1992 that partnered agencies to improve efficiency through sharing of resources and information. The program, intended to target industries with a history of regulatory problems, was named the Targeted Industries Partnership Program (TIPP). Agriculture and garment manufacturing were chosen as targeted industries because of their importance for California and their history of regulatory problems.

The main research objective of this project is to characterize agricultural operations that have received notices of violation of health, safety, and labor regulations during 1993 and 1994 through TIPP and to identify patterns and risk factors for violation. Using a database of California farm operations developed and maintained by the California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS), we compared operations that received notices of violations through TIPP during 1993 and 1994 with those that did not. This allowed us to develop a profile of operations at high risk for labor-law violations, identity and characterize risk factors, and describe patterns of violation. In addition, TIPP files were matched against the Licensed Farm Labor Contractor file (provided by the CDIR) to identify which TIPP citations were made to licensed farm-labor contractors.

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