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Women in Ag Need to Watch Their Health

As National Farm Safety & Health Week continues, the focus shifts to the health of women in agriculture.

While women are perfectly capable of performing as well as men in any role on the farm, there are some health and safety risks that either apply specifically to women, or which are more pronounced for female farmers.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lists numerous women’s safety and health issues in agriculture, including pesticide exposures, chronic bronchitis, pregnancy-related risks, work-related injuries, exposures to inhaled substances, livestock-related injuries, fatigue, cancer risks, depression, and risk factors for infertility.

The combination of these risks and living in a rural location means farm women are experiencing health disparities when compared with the population as a whole. “In general, women who live in rural health areas have poorer health outcomes and have less access to care than urban women,” Knesha Rose-Davison, MPH said in a recent webinar. “There’s also a marked lack of rural health resources for female and reproductive health, which leads to fewer preventive screens for breast and cervical cancer for rural women.”

Gender-specific risks include heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, broken bones, chronic pain, respiratory illness, mental health concerns, and pregnancy risks.

More information on how these risks specifically affect women in agriculture, read Health Needs of Women in Ag Overlooked.


The third week in September is recognized as National Farm Safety & Health Week. The National Safety Council and the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety head up the effort to develop and disseminate educational materials leading up to and throughout the week.

This year, the theme of National Farm Safety & Health Week is Shift Farm Safety Into High Gear, with each day having a different focus, from roadway safety to confined spaces. Webinars on these topics are available through a partnership with AgriSafe at The webinars are free but do require a free AgriSafe account.

More information on National Farm Safety & Health Week, including several safety videos, is available at

National Farm Safety & Health Week 2019

Monday: Brush up on Rural Roadway Safety
Tuesday: Watch for Addiction, Suicide Warning Signs
Wednesday: Keep an Eye on Kids This Week and Every Week
Thursday: Confined Spaces Hold Seen and Unseen Dangers

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