Proposed Elimination of NIOSH Farming, Fishing and Forestry Worker Safety and Student Training Programs

The President's Fiscal 2014 budget proposes the elimination of two programs that provide important contributions to the health and productivity of our nation’s workforce: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Education and Research Centers (ERCs) and the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Program (AgFF). 

Each year almost 1.2 million workers are injured seriously enough to require time off work and, daily, an average of 14,000 U.S. workers sustain disabling injuries on the job, 13 workers die from an injury suffered at work, and 146 workers die from work-related diseases, costing industry and citizens an estimated $4.8 billion per week.  To address this, NIOSH supports 17 university-based Education and Research Centers (ERCs) that provide programs in a unique group of disciplines that benefit employers of all sizes in every part of the country. Many centers are collaborative efforts among several institutions in their region.
The mission of the ERCs is to reduce work-related injuries and illnesses in the U.S. by performing prevention research and by educating, through degree programs and continuing education, high-quality professionals who daily implement programs to improve occupational health and safety and minimize the dangers faced by workers across the country.  Reduced funding for the ERCs would limit the ability of workers to avoid exposures that can result in injury or illnesses, push back improved working conditions, reduce or eliminate occupational safety and health educational services to over 10,000 U.S. businesses, and ultimately raise health care costs.   
The agriculture, forestry and fishing (AgFF) sector has a fatality rate of more than 7 times that of the all-industry average and more than 1 in 100 AgFF workers experience nonfatal injuries resulting in lost work days each year, not including men, women, and youths on farms with fewer than 11 full-time employees. In addition to the harm to individual men, women, and families, these deaths and injuries inflict serious economic losses including medical costs and lost capital, productivity, and earnings. The annual cost of agricultural occupational injuries has been estimated to exceed $4 billion in direct and indirect dollars.

An independent review of the NIOSH Agricultural, Forestry, and Fishing (AgFF) program has found it to be highly relevant to improvements in workplace safety and a proven contributor to workers’ well-being and health. The AgFF initiative was established by Congress in 1990 (P.L. 101-517) in response to evidence that workers in production agriculture, forestry, and commercial fishing suffer higher rates of occupational injury and illness than workers in other sectors. Today the NIOSH AgFF program includes 9 regional Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education, and Prevention and one national center to address children’s farm safety and health. The report is available at

For more information on these programs, you are welcome to contact us at the PNASH Center at 206-616-1958 or