Agriculture is a unique industry in the United States in the manner in which youth can be involved. Youth as young as 14 years of age can be employed to do farm work without parental consent, and youth as young as 10 years can be employed to do farm work with parental consent. Youth employed in agriculture can work with sharp tools, machinery, and pesticides, as well as do the strenuous tasks of planting, cultivating and harvesting crops, and working with large animals. The rates of injuries and illness among youth agricultural workers are extremely high. The safety and health of hired youth migrant and seasonal farmworkers are seldom considered in analyses of child agricultural injuries. Hired youth farmworkers are part of the larger vulnerable immigrant farmworker community, and include children in seasonal farmworker families, those in migrant families, and unaccompanied youth. Migrant and seasonal farmworkers are a vulnerable population that experiences significant health disparities; the experiences of youth hired Latino farmworkers, which includes harassment and abuse, places them at even greater risk. However, little research has documented the safety and health of youth hired Latino farmworkers. This project is based on a community-based participatory research collaboration between community advocates, youth, and academic investigators. Focused on youth farmworkers aged 10 to 15 years, it will use a mixed-methods approach that combines qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with longitudinal statistical data from detailed interviews, clinical examinations, and biomarkers to address 3 specific aims: (1) describe the common work experiences of hired Latino youth farmworkers, including why and when they work, the tasks they perform, their training and supervision, their working conditions, the benefits and hazards they perceive are associated with work, and how they believe farm work influences their health; (2) delineate (a) the personal and developmental characteristics, work characteristics, work organization, and work safety culture of hired Latino youth farmworkers; (b) the work related occupational, environmental, and social hazards they experience; and (c) their behavioral, psychological, and physical health characteristics; and (3) determine the (a) associations of work characteristics and hazards of hired Latino youth farmworkers with their health characteristics; and (b) how the associations of work characteristics and hazards with health are affected by their work organization, safety culture, and developmental characteristics. This project is significant and innovative because it will provide longitudinal data on the occupational hazards experienced by hired youth farmworkers, and document the work organization and work safety culture in which they work. It examines how agricultural work and hazards affect immediate physical injury, but also how these factors influence the psychological and behavioral health of these children. This information will inform safety process and policy.

Public Health Relevance

Hired youth farmworkers experience high rates of occupational injury. Data are needed delineate how work organization and safety culture are associated with hazards and health outcomes among these youth workers. This project uses a mixed-methods design and community-based participatory research approach to delineate the characteristics of hired youth farmworkers, their occupational hazards, and their work organization and safety culture characteristics.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Health Disparities and Equity Promotion Study Section (HDEP)
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Maholmes, Valerie
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Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Family Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Arcury, Thomas A; Arnold, Taylor J; Sandberg, Joanne C et al. (2018) Latinx child farmworkers in North Carolina: Study design and participant baseline characteristics. Am J Ind Med :