Surveillance of Injuries and Risk Factors in Using Workers’ Compensation Data

Principal Investigator: Marizen Ramirez, PhD

Research Team:  Carri Casteel, Fred Gerr, Joseph Cavanaugh


Although it is well-established that agriculture is among the most dangerous industries and occupations worldwide, surveillance of agricultural injuries and their risk factors – a key strategy for prevention – is poorly conducted and wrought with methodologic challenges.  The goal of this research is to improve the science of agricultural injury surveillance in conjunction with Nationwide Insurance.  This project will analyze agricultural injuries captured in two overlapping datasets: Iowa’s Statewide Trauma System and Nationwide Insurance’s Iowa-based Worker’s Compensation program during a ten-year study period (2005-2015). The aims of the research are to:

  • Estimate the incidence of agricultural injury in Iowa reported through two sources: the Iowa Trauma Registry, and Nationwide Insurance’s Worker’s Compensation program; and
  • Compare agricultural injuries by severity, type, mechanism and demographics reported by farm operations in the Nationwide Insurance database with those reported in the Trauma registry. 

We will calculate injury incidence in both datasets and compare characteristics of these injuries and the demographics of the injured workers. In addition, we will evaluate a new agricultural hazard surveillance tool to be developed by Nationwide Insurance over the next year.  The tool is scheduled to be implemented longitudinally with a cohort of U.S. farm operations. The specific aim is to evaluate the effectiveness of the Agricultural Hazard Surveillance tool in predicting agricultural injuries reported to Nationwide’s program.  This project represents a unique academic-industry partnership, and has promise to improve surveillance of both agricultural injuries and risk factors. This study will lead to improved surveillance of agricultural injuries and risk factors. Note that no personally identifiable information will be released concerning the Nationwide Insurance Claims. 


In a new analysis of Iowa agricultural injuries during a four year period, we found that only 20% of cases had worker’s compensation identified as the primary payer.