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Crop Workers Have Highest Heat-Related Death Rate
Date:6/19/2008

CDC finds mostly foreign-born farm workers had rate 20 times higher than general work force,,

THURSDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- Crop workers, most of them foreign-born, have the highest rate of death from heat-related illness, a new U.S. report released Thursday found.

From 1992 to 2006, 68 of the 423 workers in the United States who died from heat-related illness were involved in crop production, U.S. health officials said.

Their death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people compared with 0.2 per 100,000 other workers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Heat-related deaths among crop workers were about 20 times higher than the rates for the general work force," Dawn Castillo, chief of the Surveillance and Field Investigations Branch in the Division of Safety Research at CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, said during a midday teleconference Thursday.

"Such deaths are preventable," she added. "It is important to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to ensure that workers who toil to put food on our table are not placed at unnecessary risk."

Most of the workers who died from heat-related illness were foreign-born, Castillo added. "From 2003 to 2006, 71 percent of the crop workers who died of heat-related illness were foreign-born," she said.

"The high proportion of these deaths among foreign-born workers in recent years is striking and suggests a need to ensure that communications on the risk of heat-related illnesses be in workers' native languages," Castillo said.

By comparison, she added, 148 of the 423 workers who died from heat-related illness in the time period studied were in the construction industry, which represents 35 percent of all heat-related deaths in the United States.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing accounted for the next highest number of deaths, with 102, or 24 percent of t
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