Hand safety for specialty crop production workers: A pilot study investigating frequencies of minor open-wound hand injuries and presence of pathogenic bacteria

M. L. Pate, B. Nummer

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to quantify the presence of minor open-wound hand injuries in addition to Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, coliforms, and Escherichia coli on the hands of farm workers who hand-harvest fruit crops in Utah. Data collection was conducted on four farms without USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification and on two farms with GAP certification. This study identified essential safety issues that need to be addressed for improving the effectiveness of safety training for migrant farm workers. Farms that have a food safety audit program in place are less likely to have farm workers exposed to pathogenic bacteria and open-wound injuries to their hands. High frequency of S. aureus may indicate a potentially higher risk for wound infection within this worker population. This could lead to infections that are resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections, resulting in greater work loss time and medical expenses for these workers. Higher frequencies of bacterial presence on workers' hands on non-certified farms indicate a need to identify essential practices to improve worker hygiene habits and on-farm management practices to promote healthy hygiene. Open-wound injuries to migrant farm workers during hand-harvesting could create additional health problems with the possibility of infection and the spread of diseases. Continued research is needed to understand workers' acceptance of these injuries and barriers to personal protection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages227-236
Number of pages10
Volume19
No4
Specialist publicationJournal of Agricultural Safety and Health
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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